Tobacco is on track to take one billion lives this century. It is the largest source of preventable death and disease and low and middle income countries are hit the hardest. Tobacco is linked to a large number of noncommunicable diseases including cancer, heart disease, lung disease and diabetes.
This places an economic strain on families because of the high cost of treating diseases and losing breadwinners, perpetuating a cycle of poverty. Fortunately, there are a range of evidence based policies that we know reduce tobacco consumption, the most effective of which is increasing the cost of tobacco products via taxation.
Increasing excise taxes on tobacco products reliably decreases deaths and disease due to smoking through three paths. Current smokers decrease their consumption, individuals who would have smoked otherwise and encouraging smokers to quit. It is so effective that both the World Health Organisation and Copenhagen Consensus state that this is the most cost-effective policy in global health.
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