SDG target: Strengthen the implementation of the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in all countries.
This is one indicator where we continue to see progress this year. Evidence shows that people stop buying tobacco or reduce the amount they smoke when the price goes up significantly—and we can surmise that it may also be something people forego when money is scarce. Just as important, the pandemic has helped people to see how smoking makes them more susceptible not only to noncommunicable diseases like cancer and heart disease but also to infectious disease. Because of the lung damage smoking causes, smokers are more likely to get seriously ill or die from COVID.
Several countries, including South Africa, Botswana, and India, temporarily banned the sale of tobacco during the COVID emergency. A number of African governments are defending health measures against intimidation from the tobacco industry, exploring adoption of proven tobacco control policies or, as in Côte D’Ivoire and Ethiopia, enforcing strong policies already in place, like graphic warning labels on cigarette packages and bans on tobacco advertising.