Building back better from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) while advancing the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development


Oral Statement Prepared for the ECOSOC Partnership Forum

On behalf of Action on Smoking and Health and 29 signatory organizations, I would like to take a moment to draw attention to the importance of addressing the negative impact tobacco has on COVID-19 outcomes and the 2030 development agenda.

Tobacco remains the leading cause of global preventable death.  Left unchecked, tobacco will kill 1 billion people this century with approximately 80% of those deaths occurring in low- and middle-income countries. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, commercial tobacco and the actions of the tobacco industry have been even more of a hurdle to achieving development goals. Tobacco is a known risk factor for respiratory diseases and recent evidence strongly suggests that smokers are up to 50% more likely to have worse outcomes from COVID-19. In addition to the human cost, tobacco costs the global economy up to two percent of its GDP.

The evidence-based measures set out in the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (the FCTC) such as increasing taxes on tobacco products have been identified by the UN Development Programme as accelerators for sustainable development and by the World Health Organization as “best buys” for the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases.  This potential impact was recognized by UN Member States when they included Target 3.A in the SDGs. In addition to helping states achieve development goals and save lives, increasing tobacco taxes will also help generate much needed revenues during a post COVID-19 recovery phase.

Tobacco impedes COVID-19 recovery and is a barrier to achieving development. By accelerating the implementation of the FCTC, the world will also accelerate progress towards the SDGs and COVID-19 recovery.



ACT – Alliance contre le tabac
Action on Smoking and Health (USA)
ASH Finland
Austrian Council on Smoking and Health
Comite National Contre le Tabagisme, CNCT
Corporate Accountability
DNF (Demain sera Non-Fumeur)
European Network for Smoking and Tobacco Prevention
Fundacian Ana¡as
Institute of Leadership and Development (INSLA)
International Centre for Tobacco Cessation
J&K Voluntary Health Association
Smoke Free Bulgaria Association
Smoke-free Life Coalition
Society for Oral Cancer and Health
Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA)
STOP, a tobacco industry watchdog
Taiwan Medical Alliance on the Control of Tobacco
Tanzania Tobacco Control Forum (TTCF)
Tanzania Tobacco Control Forum (TTCF)
Te Ao Hurihuri
Tobacco Free Association of Zambia
UBINIG (Policy Research for Development Alternative)
Unfairtobacco / BLUE 21
UNICAMP – LAPPLANE Laboratory of Public Policy and Educational Planning
Zambia Heart and Stroke Foundation.
Zambia Non-Communicable Diseases Alliance.