Sunday, May 31st 2015. BMG: The global tobacco epidemic kills nearly 6 million people each year, of which more than 600,000 are non-smokers dying from breathing second-hand smoke.
Unless we act, the epidemic will kill more than 8 million people every year by 2030 with more than 80% of these preventable deaths being among people living in low-and middle-income countries like Belize.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has been working to reduce tobacco consumption worldwide and with today marking its annual ‘World No Tobacco Day’, the organization is calling on countries to work together in an effort to end the illicit trade of tobacco products.
Illicit trading of tobacco products accounts for 1 in every 10 cigarettes consumed globally, costing the European Union and its member states over €10 billion annually in lost tax and customs revenue, making the illegal market a major global concern. Almost all countries worldwide are being hurt by illicit trading in some way or another; hence the reason awareness needs to be raised about the damages to health and economy being imposed. WHO gives key public messages on why the illicit trade of tobacco products is detrimental to our health and interests:
1. Illicit tobacco products hook young people into tobacco experimentation and use because they are more affordable. Such illicit products also mislead young tobacco users by not displaying health warnings and sometimes involving children in illegal selling activities.
2. Illicit trade takes tax revenue away from the Government, which could have otherwise been spent on the provision of public services, instead directing such funds into the hands of criminals.
3. Illicit trade strengthens corruption and weakens good governance.
4. Tobacco companies have been known to use loopholes in tobacco control governance systems and indulge in the illicit trade of tobacco products.
We are encouraged to do whatever we can to stop the illegal moving of tobacco products across borders and abstain from purchasing products that are not authorized to be sold in our country.
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