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Archive for May, 2014

World No Tobacco Day – Special Isssue

30 May, 14 | by Becky Freeman, Web Editor

To mark World No Tobacco Day 2014, the BMJ has published a special online issue of Tobacco Control with the theme taxes, prices and illicit trade. The issue includes several open access research papers and editorials.

The complete table of contents can be found here.

We’d also like to take this opportunity to congratulate our Editorial Board chair, Professor Ken Warner, and Economics editor, Professor Frank Chaloupka on being awarded a WHO World No Tobacco Day Award.












On World No Tobacco Day (31 May), WHO calls on countries to raise taxes on tobacco to encourage users to stop and prevent other people from becoming addicted to tobacco. Based on 2012 data, WHO estimates that by increasing tobacco taxes by 50%, all countries would reduce the number of smokers by 49 million within the next 3 years and ultimately save 11 million lives.

Today, every 6 seconds someone dies from tobacco use. Tobacco kills up to half of its users. It also incurs considerable costs for families, businesses and governments. Treating tobacco-related diseases like cancer and heart disease is expensive. And as tobacco-related disease and death often strikes people in the prime of their working lives, productivity and incomes fall.

“Raising taxes on tobacco is the most effective way to reduce use and save lives,” says WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan. “Determined action on tobacco tax policy hits the industry where it hurts.”

The young and poor people benefit most

High prices are particularly effective in discouraging young people (who often have more limited incomes than older adults) from taking up smoking. They also encourage existing young smokers to either reduce their use of tobacco or quit altogether.

“Price increases are 2 to 3 times more effective in reducing tobacco use among young people than among older adults,” says Dr Douglas Bettcher, Director of the Department for Prevention of Noncommunicable Diseases at WHO. “Tax policy can be divisive, but this is the tax rise everyone can support. As tobacco taxes go up, death and disease go down.”

Good for economies too

WHO calculates that if all countries increased tobacco taxes by 50% per pack, governments would earn an extra US$ 101 billion in global revenue.

“These additional funds could – and should – be used to advance health and other social programmes,” adds Dr Bettcher.

Countries such as France and the Philippines have already seen the benefits of imposing high taxes on tobacco. Between the early 1990s and 2005, France tripled its inflation-adjusted cigarette prices. This was followed by sales falling by more than 50%. A few years later the number of young men dying from lung cancer in France started to go down. In the Philippines, one year after increasing taxes, the Government has collected more than the expected revenue and plans to spend 85% of this on health services.

Tobacco taxes are a core element of tobacco control

Tobacco use is the world’s leading preventable cause of death. Tobacco kills nearly 6 million people each year, of which more than 600 000 are non-smokers dying from breathing second-hand smoke. If no action is taken, tobacco will kill more than 8 million people every year by 2030, more than 80% of them among people living in low- and middle-income countries.

Raising taxes on tobacco in support of the reduction of tobacco consumption is a core element of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), an international treaty that entered into force in 2005 and has been endorsed by 178 Parties. Article 6 of the WHO FCTC, Price and Tax Measures to Reduce the Demand for Tobacco, recognizes that “price and tax measures are an effective and important means of reducing tobacco consumption by various segments of the population, in particular young persons”.

Tobacco Control policy on publishing research to inform regulation

19 May, 14 | by Becky Freeman, Web Editor

An important message from the Editor, Ruth Malone on the Tobacco Control policy regarding publishing papers based on data submitted to regulatory agencies:

The rapid growth of funding for research to inform tobacco regulation in the United States and elsewhere has raised issues about how the journal handles materials that may have been submitted to a government agency before being published in the journal. Tobacco Control will consider for publication papers that have been or that are based on data that has been submitted to regulatory agencies such as the US Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Tobacco Products as part of the public docket or in other forms. Such submission to government agencies, as with any related publications, should, however, be fully disclosed by the authors in the cover letter accompanying the manuscript when it is submitted for consideration. A planned submission of a manuscript to Tobacco Control should not cause delay in submission of important findings to regulatory agencies.

US: Child Workers in Danger on Tobacco Farms

15 May, 14 | by Becky Freeman, Web Editor

A Human Rights Watch report which included interviews with more than 100 child tobacco farm laborers in the South of the US has ruled that tobacco farming is so hazardous to children, it must be stopped.

The report documents how children are sickened by nicotine and toxic pesticides, work long hours in extreme heat without overtime pay, shade or sufficient breaks, use dangerous tools and machinery, and climb several stories without protection to hang tobacco in barns. Children reported vomiting, nausea, headaches and dizziness while working on tobacco farms, which are symptoms consistent with acute nicotine poisoning.


The world’s largest tobacco companies buy tobacco grown on U.S. farms, but none have child labor policies that sufficiently protect children from hazardous work.

Matt Meyer’s from the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids:

“It is outrageous that in 2014, kids are still working on tobacco farms, putting their health and safety at risk. Tobacco manufacturers must be held accountable because even though they don’t own the tobacco farms, they contract directly with growers and have the ability to control who works in the fields. This report demonstrates that the tobacco industry cannot be trusted to police itself, and it is time for strong, well-enforced laws and regulations that prohibit the use of child labor on tobacco farms.

This report is yet another example of the tobacco industry’s disregard for the health of children. Tobacco companies have a long history of marketing to kids – called “replacement smokers” in industry documents – and 90 percent of adult smokers start at or before age 18. According to the latest Surgeon General’s report, 5.6 million U.S. children alive today will die prematurely from smoking-caused disease unless current trends are reversed.”



Quitting Smoking is a Journey

8 May, 14 | by Becky Freeman, Web Editor

Form time to time we like to highlight some really high quality resources on our blog. This quit smoking video by Dr Mike Evans is  well worth passing on.



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