US$ 1.4 trillion lost every year to tobacco use - New tobacco tax manual shows ways to save money and build back better after COVID-19

April 04, 2021

WHO’s new Technical Manual on Tobacco Tax Policy and Administration shows countries ways to cut down on over US$1.4 trillion in health expenditures and lost productivity due to tobacco use worldwide.

Improved tobacco taxation policies can also be a key component of building back better after COVID-19, where countries need additional resources to respond and to finance health system recovery.

“We launched this new manual to provide updated, clear, and practical guidance for policymakers, finance officials, tax authorities, customs officials and others involved in tobacco tax policy to create and implement the strongest tobacco taxation policies for their specific countries,” said Jeremias N. Paul Jr, Coordinator of the Tobacco Control Economics Unit in the Department of the Prevention of Noncommunicable Diseases at WHO.

“We hope this document sheds light on the significant advantages to raising tobacco taxation. The data and insights provided here should be an eye opener for policymakers worldwide,” he said.

The ‘best buys’ highlighted in the manual not only save money, but save lives. The human and economic costs of tobacco are on the rise - 8 million people died because of tobacco last year.

Only 14% of the world has enough tax on tobacco
In 2018 only 38 countries, covering 14% of the global population had sufficiently high tobacco taxes - which means taxing at least 70% of the cost of these health-harming products. By implementing proven policies like tobacco taxes, the costs created by the tobacco industry to local communities and nation can be avoidable. It is a win for population health, revenue and for development.

Raising tobacco taxes is SMART
Tobacco taxes Save lives, Mobilize resources, Address health inequities, Reduce health system burdens and costs, and Target noncommunicable risk factors for the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).