According to the World Health Organization, tobacco use harms more than just the smoker. Its far-reaching economic impact affects families, businesses, and the health of each nation. But there are ways to combat the threat of tobacco throughout the world.
Families with a smoker often struggle to make a living as money that should go towards food, housing, clothing, education and medicines is diverted to buy tobacco. This economic impact can be felt by families throughout the world, but especially by those in developing nations whose earning power is lower and poverty rates higher. The strain for families is further increased when the major breadwinner is medically unable to provide for his family due to smoking-related health issues or dies from tobacco use.
Economies in developing nations are also strained as more money goes to health-care due to tobacco-related diseases and less can be used for economic growth and development. According to the World Health Organization, “some 80% of premature deaths from tobacco occur in low- or middle-income countries, which face increased challenges to achieving their development goals.” Land that should be used for viable food crops are often used to grow tobacco, destroying the soil and polluting the water from pesticides and fertilizers. “Global deforestation between 2% and 4% each year” further hurts the environment and “produces over 2 million tonnes of solid waste.”
There are ways for countries to protect their citizens from tobacco and improve their economies. Increase tobacco control by requiring plain packaging, restrict where tobacco can be sold and to whom. Increasing tobacco taxes would raise money for development as well as reduce tobacco use among the poor who are already hurt by using tobacco. Providing assistance to farmers to improve the land for food crops would improve the health of all citizens and spur economic development. And urge those who are using tobacco to quit by providing free help and provide tobacco education in all schools.
According to the WHO, there are “more than 7 million deaths from tobacco every year, a figure that is predicted to grow to more than 8 million a year by 2030 without intensified action.” It doesn’t matter where you live in the world, tobacco is a threat for the health and well-being of every nation.
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