The World Health Organization (WHO) of the Africa Region Office has called upon its member states to include tobacco control in their national policies, plans and SDG implementation frameworks as one way of reducing tobacco-related diseases. According to a press statement issued by WHO ahead of the World No Tobacco Day which falls on 31 May every year, tobacco kills more than 7.2 million people per year with over 80 percent from low or middle income countries. In the statement, WHO Regional Office Director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, has asked countries to fully implement the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco (WHO FCTC), including raising tobacco taxes to reduce its demand. The press statement further states that the revenue generated for governments can be used to finance universal health coverage, health promotion as well as other development programs. “I urge individuals to help make a sustainable, tobacco free world, either by never using tobacco products, or by quitting the habit,” said Moeti. The Regional Director further urges individuals to protect their health and that of people exposed to second hand smoke including children, other family members and friends. Moreover, he says tobacco control can break the cycle of poverty, contribute to ending hunger, promote sustainable agriculture and economic growth and combat climate change. “Let us all support tobacco control to save lives, uplift development and reduce health inequalities,” he said. According to the WHO, for the Africa Region, the cost of healthcare from tobacco smoking is 3.5 percent of total health expenditure each year. Tobacco production in Malawi is the nation’s major source of forex, and as of 2010; the country was the world’s leading producer of burley leaf tobacco. Every year, on 31 May, WHO commemorates World No Tobacco Day to raise awareness on risks and dangers associated with tobacco use and exposure to tobacco smoke. The theme of the 2017 World No Tobacco Day is; Tobacco- a Threat to Development.

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