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No Smoking 'Increase tax on cigarettes to beat smoking' - WHO urges governments

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that at least 75% of the price of a pack of cigarettes should be tax.

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play (Reuters)

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has urged governments around the world to increase taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco products in order to save lives and generate funds for stronger health services.

In a report entitled "The Global Tobacco Epidemic 2015", the health body said that too few governments make full use of tobacco taxes to dissuade people from smoking or help them to cut down and quit.

It recommends that at least 75% of the price of a pack of cigarettes should be tax.

The global health body calculates that one person dies from tobacco-related disease every six seconds or so, equivalent to about 6 million people a year.

This figure has been forecast to rise to more than 8 million people a year by 2030 unless strong measures are taken to control the what it calls a "tobacco epidemic".

The body further said that there are a billion smokers worldwide, but many countries have extremely low tobacco tax rates and some have no special tobacco taxes at all.

In the reports, WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said:

"Raising taxes on tobacco products is one of the most effective -- and cost-effective -- ways to reduce consumption of products that kill, while also generating substantial revenue,”

She therefore urged all governments to look at the evidence and "adopt one of the best win-win policy options available for health.

Speaking further on this, Douglas Bettcher, a WHO expert on the prevention of non-communicable diseases, said that higher tobacco taxes have been proven to reduce consumption and help people to quit smoking, siting the examples of China and France.

Tobacco is one of the four main risk factors behind non-communicable diseases of mostly cancers, cardiovascular and lung diseases and diabetes.

 In 2012 these diseases killed 16 million people under the age of 70, with more than 80% of those deaths in poor or middle-income countries.

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