As I have attended Informal Hearings with representative of Non-Governmental Organizations, Civil Society, Major Groups and the Private Sector on the Post-2015 Agenda, I have listened to many great speakers. One speech that caught my attention was given by Ms. Sandra Mullin from the World Lung Foundation and Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD) Alliance. She brought up the issue of tobacco use in the world. She gave the following statistics: tobacco is used the highest among poor countries. The more developed the country, the fewer people demand this drug. This is because least developed countries (LDCs) have higher social pressure which makes quitting almost impossible. Also the prices on cigarettes are relatively affordable. As a Russian immigrant – a country that has been developing in the past decade – I have observed the changes which have occurred during the development process. Smoking is slowly becoming less trendy although it still continues to be a significant problem. The Russian government has taken some actions to reduce tobacco use: cigarette packages have dramatic phrases and pictures of different diseases and birth defects caused by tobacco use.
No matter how much we discuss reasons why LDCs use tobacco more than other developed countries, Goal 3: “Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages” needs to be expanded and explained more clearly. Reducing tobacco use is one of the main components of this Goal, but in order for the world to achieve it we need to make sure we specifically mention “Tobacco use reduction” in the Goal 3 statement. One way to implement tobacco use reduction, mentioned by Ms. Sandra Mullin, is to increase tobacco taxes. Taking the United States as an example, cigarette costs there are much bigger in comparison with LDCs, and we can draw a parallel of how few American people smoke. Laws and restrictions on where people can smoke, high fees on breaking the rules, and social nonacceptance of smokers has made it difficult for a smoking habit to develop for the United States citizens. These techniques need to be shared with the rest of the world to stop tobacco use because it causes a lot of diseases and deaths.