The warning came on Tuesday in a statement dubbed the Report on the Global Tobacco, which said that global tobacco consumption currently kills six million people each year, more than the combined fatalities from AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.
The report said that, without effective measures, the figure would increase to eight million by 2030.
Although the percentage of smokers is falling in many countries, the overall number of smokers is rising.
At the moment, only 33 of the organization’s 194 member countries have tariffs amounting to 75 percent of the overall sale prices of all tobacco products, as recommended by the Geneva-based UN health agency.
“Raising taxes on tobacco products is one of the most effective – and cost-effective – ways to reduce consumption of products that kill, while also generating substantial revenue,” according to WHO Director General Margaret Chan.
Increasing tobacco prices by just 10 percent, the report said, reduces its consumption by four percent in wealthy countries.
The report specifically mentions France, saying that cigarette prices have risen sharply there since the early 1990s, while the lung cancer death rate has dropped in the country since the middle of that decade.
The WHO also mentioned that besides causing lung problems, smoking raises the risk of diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
Vera Luiza da Costa e Silva, a senior member involved in the WHO’s report, has accused “front groups” such as chambers of commerce of engaging with governments to prevent, dilute, delay or derail taxation policy development.
There are currently 1.1 billion smokers in the world, and the number is expected to increase to 1.6 billion over the next two decades.