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WHO Faults Tobacco Industry on Counterfeit Tobacco

The World Health Organization says one in every ten cigarettes consumed is illicit, making them cheaper and more accessible to unsuspecting smokers around the world.
Margret Chan, Director General World Health Organisation
The World Health Organization says one in every ten cigarettes consumed is illicit, making them cheaper and more accessible to unsuspecting smokers around the world.

The agency in a report issued ahead of this year\'s World No Tobacco Day warns that people from low-income groups, as well as to children are particularly being affected by the manufacturing of counterfeit or illicit cigarettes.

Each year, World NO Tobacco Day is marked on 31 May by WHO and its partners to highlight the health risks associated with tobacco use and advocate for effective policies to reduce tobacco consumption.

In the report issued on Wednesday, the World Health Organization (WHO) said tobacco industry is working against measures for elimination and trade in illicit tobacco products.



The tobacco epidemic is one of the world\'s biggest-ever public health threats, killing nearly six million people annually according to WHO said factsheet.

The World Health body says unless urgent action is taken, the annual death toll could rise to more than eight million by 2030.

Eliminating illicit trade in tobacco would generate an annual tax windfall of $31bn for governments around the world, says the WHO, whilst also improving public health.

The report comes as one of the effort to persuade World Health Assembly (WHA) member states to sign a new Protocol to Eliminate the Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products.

World Health Organisation Director General, Margret Chan say the Protocol covers provisions to secure the supply chain and  creates what she called a unique legal instrument to counter and eventually eliminate a sophisticated criminal.

So far, eight countries have ratified the treaty, short of the target of 40 needed for it to become international law.

But World Health Organisation claims it is facing \"overt and covert resistance\" from the tobacco industry which fears that it will curb an important revenue source. If the target threshold is reached, the Protocol commits signatories to eliminate all forms of illicit trade in tobacco products.

It covers a wide range of measures relating to the tobacco supply chain, including the licensing of imports, exports and manufacture of tobacco products.

The protocol is adopted will also criminalise illicit production and cross border smuggling.

The illicit tobacco trade offers products at lower prices, primarily by avoiding government taxes through smuggling, illegal manufacturing and counterfeiting.

Dr. Vera da Costa e Silva, head of the WHO\'s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) secretariat, says manufacturers know that once implemented, it will become much harder to hook young people and the poor into tobacco addiction.



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