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Tobacco related diseases cut short the lives of 100 million people last century, a number expected to surge to 1 billion this century, according to CGD senior fellow Bill Savedoff. Tobacco use has the makings of a staggering epidemic, one taking an increasing toll on low- and middle-income countries. Bill and I discuss the health costs imposed on those countries and tax policies for curbing tobacco usage.
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.
Philip Morris International and other cigarette manufacturers are among the most profitable firms in the world, selling the world’s most lethal legal product. They prominently advertise their commitment to corporate social responsibility on everything from child labor to renewable energy. They’ve even conceded that smoking is dangerous and say they are committed to a smoke-free world. But none of these initiatives make up for breaching their most fundamental corporate social responsibility—one defined quite cogently by free-market-advocate Milton Friedman—to pursue their profits “without deception and fraud.”