In just two weeks, from 7-12 November, the 7th Conference of the Parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC COP 7) takes place in Delhi. It’s a big moment for building on international efforts to curtail tobacco use, and the enormous health damage it causes. As ever, the tobacco lobby has been working to prevent effective counter-measures… but this year, we’ve been working to limit their lobbying effectiveness.
Tobacco taxes, correctly managed, are the key tool in preventing tobacco use – and so in reducing the massive health costs. With tobacco companies increasingly focused on lower-income countries as ‘growth’ markets, it is some of the poorest people in the world who will bear the brunt of any success.
Tobacco tactics are well known – including the purchasing of research findings, the promotion of alternative public health threats, and scaremongering about the risks of taking serious action. Key is the ability to present industry messages as if they were objective and neutral, to convince policymakers not to block the selling of – in effect – death. These same tactics are increasingly in play in lower-income countries, in defence of what is often a higher degree of space for tobacco companies to maneouvre. Because taxes are such an important part of that policy space, the battle is especially fierce here.
Tax Tobacco for Life is a project of the Tax Justice Network, set up precisely to combat these machinations of Big Tobacco. We’re now on the point of a full public launch. We’ve brought together a global coalition of public health and tax justice organisations for a first major campaign action. We think that together – and with your support – we can do some serious damage to the ability of Big Tobacco to lobby against effective tobacco taxes – which can in turn save millions of lives around the world over the coming years.
Watch this space, and our twitter feed @TaxTobacco…