Bangkok, 11 January 2017: The Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA) welcomes the new report “The Economics of Tobacco and Tobacco Control” by the U.S. National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the World Health Organization (WHO), which finds that tobacco control measures are highly cost-effective and boost national economies.
Tobacco use remains one of the world’s leading causes of preventable premature death. In the ASEAN region where half of all adult men smoke and where 10% (125 million) of the world’s smokers live, tobacco kills about 500,000 people per year. Tobacco use in the ASEAN also burdens national economies with more than USD 10 billion in health care costs and lost productivity annually.
While progress is being made to control the global tobacco epidemic, existing measures have not yet been used to their full potential. These include significant tobacco tax and price increases, comprehensive bans on tobacco industry marketing activities, prominent pictorial health warning labels, smoke-free policies, and population-wide tobacco cessation programs. Applying these most effective and cost-effective interventions would reduce demand for tobacco products and significantly reduce the prevalence of tobacco use and the resulting deaths, diseases, and economic costs.
“The global scale of suffering, death, and disease from tobacco use is staggering. Millions of early deaths can be prevented if nations adopt evidence-based tobacco control policies,” said Robert Croyle, Ph.D., Director of the National Cancer Institute’s Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences.
The Economics of Tobacco and Tobacco Control provides the first comprehensive review of the economics of global tobacco control efforts since the 2005 entry into force of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). The monograph discusses the current evidence on the economics of tobacco use; tobacco growing, manufacturing, and trade; tobacco product taxes and prices; and tobacco control policies and other interventions to reduce tobacco use and its consequences. The monograph’s comprehensive summary of the existing scientific research emphasizes evidence from low- and middle-income countries.
In ASEAN countries, tobacco tax policies have been gradually strengthened to reduce tobacco consumption and raise government revenue, however, cigarette prices still remain very low (less than USD 1 per pack) in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Philippines, and Vietnam. All ASEAN countries require pictorial health warnings on tobacco packages, including some of the world’s largest: Thailand (85% of front and back) and Brunei, Lao PDR, and Myanmar (75%). All ASEAN countries, except Indonesia, also enforce a complete ban on tobacco advertising in print media, TV, radio, and cinema, and more than half of the ASEAN countries (Brunei, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam) enforce a ban on tobacco advertising at points of sale (POS).
“SEATCA congratulates the NCI and WHO on this invaluable and practical resource to guide policy makers not only in the ASEAN, but also throughout the world. While ASEAN is on the right track, we still have significant room for improvement to strengthen our tobacco control measures,” said Ms. Bungon Ritthiphakdee, SEATCA’s Executive Director.
Frank Chaloupka, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor of Economics at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the lead scientific editor for the monograph concludes, “the evidence is clear – effective tobacco control interventions make sense from an economic as well as a public health standpoint.”
This is the 21st volume in the series of monographs on tobacco control produced by the NCI. This current effort included contributions from more than 60 leaders in the field and was peer-reviewed by more than 70 scientific experts. All NCI Tobacco Control Monographs are available at: http://cancercontrol.cancer.gov/brp/tcrb/monographs.
Wendell C Balderas, Media and Communications Officer – SEATCA
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SEATCA is a multi-sectoral non-governmental alliance working to promote health and save lives by assisting ASEAN countries to accelerate and effectively implement the evidence-based tobacco control measures contained in the WHO FCTC. Acknowledged by governments, academic institutions, and civil society for its advancement of tobacco control movements in Southeast Asia, the WHO bestowed on SEATCA the World No Tobacco Day Award in 2004 and the WHO Director-General’s Special Recognition Award in 2014.