|WHO calls for higher tobacco taxes in SE Asia
The World Health Organization-Western Pacific Regional Office and the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance on Thursday called for increasing taxes on tobacco products to discourage smoking in Southeast Asia.
The organizations have partnered to help Southeast Asian countries strengthen their tobacco excise systems.
"Countries should recognize that higher tobacco prices will save lives and reduce the high economic and social burden of tobacco addiction," said WHO-WPRO Regional Director Shin Young-soo.
Shin made his remarks during the opening of the a two-day Regional Workshop on Tobacco Taxation and Illicit Trade held in WHO's regional office here.
SEATCA said keeping tobacco taxes low creates an environment that encourages the region's youth to take up smoking, making it difficult to prevent smoking in Southeast Asia.
"Precisely because the excise tax on tobacco products in many countries is still low, WHO has made taxation the theme in this year's World No Tobacco Day," said SEATCA Director Bungon Rithiphakdee.
A study undertaken by the group revealed that tobacco consumption continues to rise, with Indonesia alone experiencing a seven-fold increase between 1977 and 2000, to 187 billion sticks from 33 billion of cigarettes. --Xinhua