World No Tobacco Day – 31 May 2014

Raise taxes on tobacco

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. More than 80% of these preventable deaths will be among people living in low-and middle-income countries.

For World No Tobacco Day 2014, WHO and partners call on countries to raise taxes on tobacco. 

wntd 2014

Raise taxes on tobacco

Reduce tobacco consumption, save lives

Under the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), countries should implement tax and price policies on tobacco products as a way to reduce tobacco consumption. Research shows that higher taxes are especially effective in reducing tobacco use among lower-income groups and in preventing young people from starting to smoke. A tax increase that increases tobacco prices by 10% decreases tobacco consumption by about 4% in high-income countries and by up to 8% in most low- and middle-income countries.

Furthermore, increasing excise taxes on tobacco is considered to be the most cost-effective tobacco control measure. The World Health Report 2010 indicated that a 50% increase in tobacco excise taxes would generate a little more than US$ 1.4 billion in additional funds in 22 low-income countries. If allocated to health, government health spending in these countries could increase by up to 50%.


The ultimate goal of World No Tobacco Day is to contribute to protecting present and future generations not only from the devastating health consequences due to tobacco, but also from the social, environmental and economic scourges of tobacco use and exposure to tobacco smoke.

Specific goals of the 2014 campaign are that:

  • governments increase taxes on tobacco to levels that reduce tobacco consumption;
  • individuals and civil society organizations encourage their governments to increase taxes on tobacco to levels that reduce consumption.

Every year, on 31 May, WHO and partners everywhere mark World No Tobacco Day, highlighting the health risks associated with tobacco use and advocating for effective policies to reduce tobacco consumption. Tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of death globally and is currently responsible for 10% of adult deaths worldwide.

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Risks to oral health and intervention – Tobacco


Prevalence of tobacco use has declined in some high-income countries but continues to increase in low- and middle-income countries, especially among young people and women. Undoubtedly, the increasing number of smokers and smokeless tobacco users among young people in different areas of the world will considerably affect the general and oral health of future generations. The prevalence of tobacco use in most countries is the highest amongst people of low educational background and among the poor and marginalized people.

Risks to oral health and intervention

Risks to oral health and intervention

Tobacco use is a major preventable cause of premature death and of several general diseases. In addition, cigarette, pipe, cigar and bidi smoking, betel quid chewing (pan), guhtka use and other traditional forms of tobacco have several effects in the mouth. Tobacco is a risk factor for oral cancer, oral cancer recurrence, adult periodontal diseases and congenital defects such as cleft lip and palate in children. Tobacco suppresses the immune system’s response to oral infection, compromises healing following oral surgical and accidental wounding, promotes periodontal degeneration in diabetics and adversely affects the cardiovascular system. Moreover, tobacco greatly increases the risk when used in combination with alcohol or areca nut. Most oral consequences of tobacco use impair quality of life be they as simple as halitosis, as complex as oral birth defects, as common as periodontal disease or as troublesome as complications during wound healing.

The WHO Oral Health Programme aims to control tobacco-related oral diseases and adverse conditions through several strategies. Within WHO, the Programme forms part of the WHO tobacco-free initiatives, with fully integrated oral health-related programmes. Externally, the Programme encourages the adoption and use of WHO tobacco-cessation and control policies by international and national oral health organizations. Primary partners are WHO Collaborating Centres in Oral Health and NGOs who are in official relations with WHO, i.e. the International Association for Dental Research (IADR) and the FDI World Dental Federation. A number of projects have been initiated in Canada, European Union countries, Japan, New Zealand and the United States, and more programmes are being considered in India and China.

There are several ethical, moral, and practical reasons why oral health professionals should strengthen their contributions to tobacco-cessation programmes, for example:

  • They are especially concerned about the adverse effects in the oropharyngeal area of the body that are caused by tobacco practices.
  • They meet, on a regular basis, children, youth and their caregivers, thus providing opportunities to influence individuals to entirely avoid, postpone initiation or quit using tobacco before they become strongly dependent.
  • They often have more time with patients than many other clinicians, providing opportunities to integrate education and intervention.
  • They often treat women of childbearing age, thus are able to inform such patients about the potential harm to their babies from tobacco use.
  • They are as effective as other clinicians in helping tobacco users quit and results are improved when more than one discipline assists individuals during the quitting process.
  • They can build their patient’s interest in discontinuing tobacco use by showing actual tobacco effects in the mouth.

World No Tobacco Day

The tobacco-related goal of the WHO Oral Health Programme is to ensure that oral health teams and oral health organizations are directly, appropriately and routinely involved in influencing patients and the public at large to avoid and discontinue the use of all forms of tobacco.

The aim of cancer control is a reduction in both the incidence of the disease and associated morbidity and mortality. This requires not only knowledge of the natural history of the disease but also an understanding of the underpinning social, economic and cultural factors. Screening and early detection can save lifes. Several developed and developing countries are in the process of implementing cancer prevention programmes, including oral cancer prevention. It is essential to educate people to recognize the early signs and symptoms of oral cancer. Particularly in developing countries, primary health care workers trained in the detection of oral cancer will become a considerable force for prevention through early detection and health promotion to raise awareness in the community. An effective referral system must be identified to ensure vital actions are taken.

world no tobacco day

The WHO Oral Health Programme supports the inclusion of oral cancer prevention as part of national cancer control programmes, based on careful planning, monitoring and evaluation, and partnership-building.

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