Stamping out tobacco use can save millions of lives and combat poverty, the World Health Organization (WHO) said today and spotlighted for the first time the ways in which tobacco affects human well-being from an environmental perspective – caused by production, distribution and waste.

“Tobacco threatens us all,” WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan said, explaining: “Tobacco exacerbates poverty, reduces economic productivity, contributes to poor household food choices and pollutes indoor air."

The UN health chief’s assessment comes on the eve of World No Tobacco Day, marked annually on 31 May, and which targets the threats tobacco poses to global development worldwide. WHO is calling on governments to implement strong tobacco control measures – such as banning tobacco marketing and advertising, promoting plain product packaging, raising excise taxes and making indoor public places and workplaces smoke-free.

"Many governments are taking action against tobacco, from banning advertising and marketing, to introducing plain packaging for tobacco products, and smoke-free work and public places," noted Dr. Oleg Chestnov, WHO's Assistant Director-General for Noncommunicable Diseases (NCDs) and Mental Health.

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