TOBACCO > A CAUSE OF POVERTY THAT MUST BE STOPPED
Tobacco is an economic threat to individuals, countries and the world.
Tobacco use is higher among the poor. Their addiction to nicotine drives them to spend a relatively large proportion of their income on tobacco that cannot be spent on basic human needs such as food, shelter, education and health care. This trend coupled with the high cost associated with dealing with tobacco-related diseases deprives poor families of much needed income. In the case of the poorest—where a significant portion of their meager income is required to buy food—expenditures on tobacco can mean the difference between an adequate diet and malnutrition.
A study on the systematic link between tobacco and poverty, published by the World Health Organization, explored the link between tobacco use and poverty using a meta-analysis of an extensive body of research spanning more than 20 years. It concluded unequivocally that tobacco inflicts greater harm among disadvantaged groups around the world.
The poor continue to lose while tobacco companies reap enormous profits from year to year—and while they have an explicit strategy to increase sales in the poorest parts of the world.
For this reason, policies and interventions focusing on smoking prevention among the poor are a key component of national and international efforts to improve the wellbeing of less affluent populations.
At the Millennium Summit in September 2000, the world committed to reduce extreme poverty by 2015 by adopting global poverty reduction goals. Since tobacco kills and impacts more people in low-income countries than rich countries, it impedes progress on these goals. The world must take steps to ensure that tobacco use is no longer an impediment to global development.
ASH’s strategy is to work with allies in order to ensure that interventions focusing on tobacco prevention among the poor are included in the development agenda, including the agenda of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). This will ensure that governments and donors increase their investment in tobacco control that will lead to prevention measures that protect the most vulnerable populations around the world from the marketing strategies of the tobacco industry.
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