New initiative seeks to coalese cancer organizations on tobacco tax

Henry Neondo, CNS Correspondent, Kenya
A group of international cancer organizations today launched a new initiative to encourage governments to increase taxes on tobacco. Tobacco causes 20 percent of all cancer deaths and more than 4,000 people die from tobacco-related cancer each day.

The initiative aims to build a global coalition of cancer organizations, all working individually and collectively to campaign for high tobacco taxes that are proven to reduce tobacco use. Emphasizing the global, collective nature of the coalition, cancer organizations are being invited to sign up and cast their vote to name the campaign at NameTheFuture.org. This new initiative aims to increase understanding within the global cancer community of the power of tobacco taxation as an effective measure for reducing tobacco use and preventing cancer and other chronic disease. In addition, high tobacco taxes have the potential to generate millions annually in sustainable government revenue that can be reinvested in healthcare, health systems, cancer prevention and treatment. Information in clear, non-technical language and assistance will be made available to support cancer organizations signing up to the campaign, especially those who have not worked in the field of taxation before. Cancer organizations are encouraged to take a lead in raising the prominence of tobacco taxation as an essential intervention for cancer prevention, and stimulate demand within governments for sustained and meaningful tobacco tax increases.

Speaking in Paris, where the World Cancer Congress is currently in progress, Gary M. Reedy, Chief Executive Officer, American Cancer Society – one of the founding members of the initiative - said: “The time is right for this campaign. There is an urgency for governments around the world to respond to the WHO’s call for a 30% relative reduction in adult smoking prevalence by 2025.  The most plausible way for governments to reach this target is by raising tobacco taxes. The cancer community must take a lead in raising the prominence of tobacco taxation as an essential intervention for cancer prevention and leverage our collective influence to raise tobacco taxes significantly.” Harpal Kumar, Chief Executive Officer of Cancer Research UK, another founding member of the coalition, continued: “Global tobacco use remains, by far, the most important modifiable risk factor for cancer, and an area where cancer organizations could make a meaningful difference if we worked together.

At the last World Cancer Congress, we reached the conclusion that policy change in the field of tobacco tax is the most powerful, cost-effective and sustainable intervention in tobacco control. Cancer Research UK is very supportive of this ambitious international campaign and invites all cancer organizations to get involved.” To join the coalition, cancer organizations are invited to visit the American Cancer Society booth at the World Cancer Congress or visit NameTheFuture.org, to sign up and vote for their preferred name for this global campaign.  The first wave of cancer organizations joining the coalition include American Cancer Society, Canadian Cancer Society, Cancer Research UK and Norwegian Cancer Society. Meanwhile, the German Health Minister has revealed that tobacco-related disease costs his government 2 billion Euros and asked that something be done to curb this loss.

Henry Neondo, Citizen News Service - CNS
November 2, 2016

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