The tobacco industry will cover the cost of the COIVD-19 vaccine roll-out across the world due to the link between cigarette smoking and damage to human health. Wealthy cigarette manufacturers have until June 30, 2021, to pay the United Nations (UN) a levy, the exact amount of which will be set once the total cost of the vaccine roll-out is known.
“Cigarette smoking ruins human health,” began a statement from the UN and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
“People with poor health have weak immune systems, and viruses survive in bodies with weak immune systems. If there are more unhealthy people on the planet, viruses such as COVID-19 are more difficult to prevent, control and eliminate. For that reason, the tobacco industry will pay for the roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine, which will help protect the health of all citizens.”
The tobacco industry has reacted strongly to the shock announcement.
“This is an unprecedented and unacceptable imposition on what is a legal industry. Never before has one industry been forced to bear the cost of an international crisis, and the tobacco industry will fight this levy through the proper channels.”
The UN and the WHO, meanwhile, reminded the tobacco industry that cigarette smoking damages the health of smokers, non-smokers and the planet, and that the ongoing pandemic has reminded everyone of the importance of protecting the health and wellbeing of the world’s population.
The tobacco lobby also argued that other industries should also be forced to pay the levy.
“The justification for imposing the levy on the tobacco industry is that our products damage human health. If that is true, then fast food outlets such as McDonalds, KFC and Jollibee should also pay the levy, because consumption of their products leads to poor health outcomes.”
The UN explained that the fast food industry may also be charged the levy once the total cost of the international vaccine roll-out has been determined.
Governments throughout the world have declined to comment publicly on the decision. While they are expected to be pleased that someone else is covering the cost of vaccinating their citizens, they are wary of making any statement that might upset the powerful tobacco lobby.
COVID-19 vaccination has already begun in some countries, and the program will continue across the globe for the remainder of 2021.
Image: Julia Engel