Tobacco use continues to be the leading global cause of preventable death. It kills nearly 6 million people and causes hundreds of billions of dollars of economic damage worldwide each year. Most of these deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, disproportionally affecting some of the world’s most vulnerable populations and creating costs many nations cannot afford. Over the course of the 21st century, tobacco use could kill a billion people or more unless urgent action is taken.
Each year, the World Health Organization’s World No Tobacco Day, on May 31, focuses global attention on the deadly toll of tobacco use and the need for countries to take strong action to address this entirely preventable epidemic.
We, IFMSA, recognize that the spread of tobacco epidemic is a global problem with serious consequences for public health such as social, economic and environmental. Therefore, we join the WHO and other public health organizations in calling on governments to raise taxes on tobacco products, which is the single most effective way to reduce tobacco use and save lives. When tobacco prices go up, smoking and other tobacco use goes down, especially among vulnerable groups such as youth, pregnant women and low-income smokers.
We support measures to eliminate tobacco use by youth, to regulate tobacco products, to eliminate exposure to environmental tobacco smoke, and to deter tobacco use in the population through legislation, regulation, litigation, media advocacy and education.
The world’s first public health treaty – the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) – provides nations with a powerful tool to reduce tobacco’s devastating toll. The treaty obligates nations to implement proven strategies to reduce tobacco use, including tobacco tax increases, 100 percent smoke-free laws, large, graphic health warnings and comprehensive bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship. IFMSA calls its’ National Member Organizations and members to actively work towards implementation of FCTC and WHO report on tobacco use 2011 through activities such as “leading by example” up to influencing governments on tobacco ban policies.
IFMSA and its’ members can potentially be one of leading international youth movements towards prevention of tobacco use and preventing associated illnesses taking into consideration young and medical nature of its members.