Tax and Poverty Analyses to Inform the Lancet Commission on Global Tobacco Control
Noviembre, 2017 Economía
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that tobacco smoking is responsible for 5-6 million deaths per year globally. Unless, substantial cessation rates are achieved, in this century alone smoking will kill about 1 billion people; 250 million deaths of these will be among those younger than 35 years mostly in low and middle-income countries (LMICs) just in the next few decades.
A sharp reduction in tobacco consumption, and subsequently deaths, would occur from raising the cost of smoking through a large and coordinated increase in the excise tax (such as a tripling) on tobacco products. Systematic collection of evidence about the impact of non-price interventions like plain packaging can encourage larger acceptability among policy makers, help to de-incentivize initiation and promote cessation making tobacco control more effective.
There is a need to connect robust evidence with high-level advocacy, particularly in development and finance circles and not just in health circles. We propose that a high-profile Lancet Commission on Global Tobacco Control (LCGTC) will help disseminate new evidence so as to enable implementation of effective tobacco control strategies, particularly for LMICs in Latin America and Asia.
This is a time-sensitive proposal. We hope to catalyze analytic work specifically for selected LMICs (Mexico, Colombia, Philippines and India) as soon as possible, and have the results published by fall of 2017 in the Lancet. The results of the analytic work will influence on-going discussions around reducing poverty and improving health outcomes. More importantly, it will also leverage dissemination and investment plans of government and donor agencies –most of which will commence in the fall and summer of 2017. The IDRC and Cancer Research UK plan to roll-out their tobacco investment plan on fall 2017. The World Bank and United Nations are planning to hold a series of discussions on poverty reduction, and universal health coverage also in fall 2017. Other organization/agencies such as World Health Organization (with a new Director General) and Bloomberg Philanthropies will also be interested. As informed by the results of our analytical work, they may potentially intensify and re-align their tobacco control initiatives.
Lastly, this proposal also aims to sustain the momentum of growing number of evidence that demonstrate the progressive effects of increasing tobacco prices. We will create an open source tool for poverty and taxation analyses that can be used widely by researchers from different countries and settings. This initiative will produce country-specific evidence on the fiscal and health impact of different level of tobacco prices.