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A billion premature deaths this century—that’s the estimated toll of smoking. As 80% of the world’s smokers live in low- to middle-income countries, that’s a huge problem for the developing world. That's a lot of not only lost lives but also lost economic output, and increased strain on already-overburdened health budgets.
So what’s the solution? You’ve heard before from CGD senior fellow Bill Savedoff that increasing tobacco taxes can actually help turn people away from nicotine; on this week’s podcast for World No Tobacco Day, you’ll hear another idea.
University of Ottawa professor David Sweanor, who helped develop Canada’s tobacco control laws, believes that smokers should be encouraged to switch to less harmful nicotine delivery systems, like e-cigarettes. But does switching our focus to harm reduction mean letting go of the “endgame”—a completely tobacco-free future?
That’s the question that Sweanor and Savedoff tackle in this week’s podcast. In the clip below, Sweanor argues that nicotine itself is not particularly hazardous. But, Savedoff asks, if “puffing” on e-cigarettes becomes the norm, will that undo all the progress we’ve made towards eradication?
This week, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers announced a new Task Force on Fiscal Policy for Health. This is the first time such a high-level group of respected economic and fiscal policy opinion leaders has convened on this issue, creating an opportunity to acknowledge the importance of taxes for promoting health and to take action to save lives.
This week, as world leaders meet in Washington, DC for the Annual Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, they will be discussing ways to reduce global poverty and inequality. At the Center for Global Development we're addressing the question, what are the next frontiers in global development?
This Wednesday, you will be attending an event on tobacco taxes at the World Bank’s annual meetings, where President Jim Kim and Mayor Michael Bloomberg will be speaking. You will be attending this high-level discussion along with about 14 other Finance Ministers. While the meeting may look routine, it is actually one of the most important you will attend this week. You will be discussing how the Finance Ministry can save more lives than the Minister of Health—by raising tobacco taxes in a way that best discourages smoking.