Smokers used as milch-cows

| January 11, 2017

In 2013-14, governments around the world together spent less than 0.4 percent of their tobacco excise receipts on tobacco control, according to estimates made by the World Health Organization.

This is part of one of the major conclusions of a report by the US National Cancer Institute in collaboration with the WHO, The Economics of Tobacco and Tobacco Control.

The conclusion states that policies and programs that work to reduce the demand for tobacco products are highly cost-effective.

‘Significant tobacco tax and price increases, comprehensive bans on tobacco industry marketing activities, and prominent pictorial health warning labels are generally the least costly tobacco control interventions, followed by the implementation and enforcement of smoke-free policies and the provision of population-wide tobacco cessation programs,’ the report states.

‘Significant tobacco tax and price increases are the most cost-effective of these interventions.’

However, the report goes on to say that despite the considerable revenues generated by tobacco taxes, few governments are investing more than a fraction of these revenues in tobacco control or in other health programs.

‘WHO estimated that in 2013–2014, global tobacco excise taxes generated nearly 269 billion US dollars (US$) in government revenues, but governments spent a combined total of less than US$ 1 billion on tobacco control,’ it said.

Other major conclusions listed in the report’s executive summary are:

* The global health and economic burden of tobacco use is enormous and is increasingly borne by low- and middle-income countries.

* Failures in the markets for tobacco products provide an economic rationale for governments to intervene in these markets.

* Effective policy and programmatic interventions are available to reduce the demand for tobacco products and the death, disease, and economic costs that result from their use, but these interventions are underutilized.

* Control of illicit trade in tobacco products, now the subject of its own international treaty, is the key supply-side policy to reduce tobacco use and its health and economic consequences.

* The market power of tobacco companies has increased in recent years, creating new challenges for tobacco control efforts.

* Tobacco control does not harm economies.

* Tobacco control reduces the disproportionate burden that tobacco use imposes on the poor.

* Progress is now being made in controlling the global tobacco epidemic, but concerted efforts will be required to ensure that progress is maintained or accelerated.

The full report (688pp) is at: https://cancercontrol.cancer.gov/brp/tcrb/monographs/21/docs/m21_complete.pdf

The executive summary (52pp) is at: https://cancercontrol.cancer.gov/brp/tcrb/monographs/21/docs/m21_exec_sum.pdf

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