There are more than 1 billion people who smoke around the world right now. 80 percent of them live in low and middle-income countries. tobacco smoking remains a major health challenge and a cost to the government. Those who harvest the crop are also affected by the green tobacco sickness according to a World Health Organization report. Treating the effects of smoking hinders economic development and reduces the incomes of families. It is believed that tobacco smoke contains 4,000 chemicals, 250 of the chemicals are harmful while 50 cause cancer.

The effects of second-hand smoking

Second-hand smoking causes serious respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, coronary heart diseases and lung cancer. It can cause low birth weight in pregnant women and sudden death to infants. Half of the children around the world regularly breathe air that is polluted by tobacco smoke that exists in public places. 28% of second-hand deaths was recorded amongst children.

Picture warnings on cigarette packs reduce the number of those who smoke as well as decreased the number of new smokers. The signs have also encouraged those who smoke not to smoke from inside their homes and to smoke away from their children. Only 42 countries around the world meet the best practice when it comes to the introduction and implementation of pictorial warnings according to the W.H.O.

Media campaigns have also encouraged smokers to protect non-smokers and have convinced the youth not to engage in the vice. According to the W.H.O, only 29 countries have banned promotions, advertising and any form of sponsorships by tobacco companies. One in three countries has no or minimal restrictions on marketing activities by tobacco companies.

The W.H.O in its report stated that an increase in tobacco taxes by 10 percent reduces consumption by 4 percent among people in high-income countries and 5 percent among people in low-income countries.

Illicit tobacco trade

It is estimated that one in ten cigarettes and tobacco products that are consumed globally are illicit.

Smuggling, Illegal production, counterfeiting and illegal tax evasion also undermine the effectiveness of the implementation of smoking policies. Companies producing and selling cigarettes are also evading taxes because taxes are too high. Other factors that are affecting the implementation of tobacco policies include corruption, ineffective custom and tax administration, informal distribution of tobacco products as well as weak governance.

The WHO MPOWER initiative

The W.H.O is working with 180 parties around the world to monitor tobacco use and prevention policies. Other activities of the organization include protecting people from tobacco use, offer help to smokers to quit smoking, warn the public about the dangers of smoking, assist countries to enforce bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship as well as lobbying for the raise in taxes on tobacco products.