Tobacco control and sustainable development: shared challenges and future opportunities

Britta Katharina Matthes, Mateusz Zatonski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In recent years, scholars and public health officials have increasingly perceived tobacco as a threat to sustainable development. This article explores how stronger tobacco control efforts can contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015. Most obviously, given that tobacco use and exposure account for over 7.2 million deaths annually, tobacco control is a fundamental prerequisite for achieving SDG 3: Good Health and WellBeing. However, the article also shows how tobacco is, among others, a driver of poverty and inequalities, a threat to sustainable economic growth, a challenge to the environment, and an obstacle to good governance. In effect, tobacco hinders progress on a host of other SDGs. Particular emphasis is placed on SDG 17: Partnership for the goals. While tobacco control partnerships for the past decades have helped attain public health progress globally, there is a risk of this SDG being hijacked by the tobacco industry and other corporate actors, who use it as a tool to justify the proliferation of public-private partnerships. Finally, the article calls for greater cross-disciplinary thinking and closer collaboration between tobacco control and development scholars, which could be crucial in designing successful tobacco control interventions in low- and middle-income countries, and could help achieve the Sustainable Development Agenda.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-79
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Health Inequalities
Issue number1
Early online date31 Jul 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Tobacco control
  • Tobacco control, Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), Coronary heart disease, Socioeconomic inequalities
  • Sustainable Development
  • SDG3: Good health and well-being
  • sustainable development goals
  • LMIC

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)


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