Tag: Tobacco

 

Dear Finance Minister: The World Bank Has Cleared the Air on Tobacco Taxes

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Dear Finance Minister,

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.

Tobacco Companies Fail the Corporate Social Responsibility Test of a Free-Market Advocate

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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.”

The World’s Most Profitable Slow-Motion Disaster: Tobacco

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In April, I attended a very hopeful event sponsored by the World Bank entitled, “Tobacco Taxation Win-Win for Public Health and Domestic Resources Mobilization.” My optimism was buoyed by seeing people from different ministries, disciplines, and perspectives all recognizing the need to raise tobacco taxes and sharing ideas on how to reduce the death toll from smoking. Then the bubble burst. I got home and saw a Wall Street Journal article about the increasing profitability of cigarette corporations in the US domestic market—a reminder that, unbelievably, we are still on the defensive against this large, growing, and completely avoidable disaster.

The IMF Finally Speaks on Tobacco Taxes

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Last November, the IMF released a workable guide to issues that come up when a country decides to raise tobacco taxes. This is a big step. As far as I know, this is the first public statement from the IMF on tobacco taxes since 1999. Yet while it recognizes the health effects of reducing tobacco consumption, the technical note never addresses how you would make sure that tobacco taxes reduce smoking.

Tobacco: Control or Eradicate? – Podcast with David Sweanor and Bill Savedoff

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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. 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, you’ll hear another idea. 

Tobacco Control or Eradication: Are ENDS part of an endgame?

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Is the tobacco epidemic more like smallpox or HIV? It’s an important question. If it is like smallpox, then we can pursue strategies to eradicate tobacco as a risk to human health. However, if it is like HIV, we instead need to be thinking in terms of controlling and managing the epidemic.

The World Bank Keeps Missing Opportunities to Save Lives and Mobilize Domestic Revenues

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I have argued that tobacco taxes are the single best health policy that any country could implement. The World Bank is the most prominent organization in the world with the skills, mandate, and network to support raising tobacco taxes in developing countries where the number of smokers and shortened lives is increasing every year. Yet, the World Bank has committed far too little to this effort. One of the key reasons is that World Bank management has let this best-buy for development fall between the cracks – tobacco is a health issue and taxes are a fiscal policy issue.

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