Q: What is Prevent20?
A: Prevent20 is a global coalition of cancer organizations with one critical message: tobacco taxes prevent cancer.
Prevent20 exists because the single most effective tobacco control measure – tobacco tax – is also the most underused. The Prevent20 community plays a vital role by helping cancer organizations use their influence to raise tobacco taxes and prevent cancer. Through higher tobacco taxes, we can prevent the 20% of all cancer deaths related to tobacco use.
Q: Why cancer organizations?
A: Cancer organizations have a respected voice and influence in our respective countries and globally. We are well-positioned to spread the word about why governments must prioritize higher tobacco taxes: because reducing the affordability of such a harmful product is crucial to prevent the suffering from a disease we know all too well.
Cancer organizations have a unique role to play as a driving force, influencing public opinion and government action on both cancer control and tobacco control. We regularly witness the plight of families devastated by cancer, and we are committed to doing everything we can to reduce the death and disease attributable to tobacco use. We are also committed to delivering a tobacco-free generation, so young people will not have to suffer tobacco-related cancers later in life.
The public trusts our recommendations and will trust our message that raising tobacco taxes is an evidence-based policy measure that will make an enormous contribution to delivering a world with less cancer.
Q: How will my organization benefit from becoming a Prevent20 member?
A: By belonging to Prevent20, members and friends will: learn the essentials of tobacco taxation in order to become a vocal proponent, benefit from exchanges with a strong network of like-minded peers, and gain access to experts in economics, communications, advocacy, and research, whose job it is to share knowledge and cultivate understanding around the issues.
In short, Prevent20 provides the resources and tools members need, so every member can feel confident in raising their voices in support of higher tobacco taxes to prevent cancer.
Q: Why do we need a coalition on tobacco taxation at this particular time?
A: The vast majority of countries around the world have not raised the tax on tobacco products to a level that reduces affordability and discourages consumption, yet this is an indispensable policy measure for reaching the World Health Organization’s global target of reducing smoking prevalence by 30% by 2025.
Attention on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and in particular, the target to reduce premature mortality from non-communicable diseases (NCDs) by one-third by 2030, is another reason. The clock is ticking, and we must leverage the motivation of governments around the world to meet these two targets. Public health experts recognize that the targets are unlikely to be met in the absence of higher taxes and prices on tobacco products that make them unaffordable for both youth and adults.
Q: How high do tobacco taxes need to be to reduce smoking prevalence by 30% by 2025 and move countries closer to meeting the SDG goal on N?
A: The optimum taxation level will vary from country to country. Prevent20’s economists created a dynamic model that allows us to estimate how much tobacco taxes should be increased to reduce smoking prevalence by 30% by 2025 in any country. We can also estimate how much additional government revenue could be generated by increasing taxes to the optimal rate. As part of the Prevent20 coalition, we will be able to
Q: My organization is already a member of the national tobacco control coalition in my country. Why should we get involved in this separate effort?
A: That’s fantastic – your participation in the national coalition is vitally important! We’d love for you to tell members of your coalition about this global coalition of cancer organizations, which is meant to supplement, not supplant, existing national tobacco control efforts. Your experience and knowledge will enrich the Prevent20 community, just as the Prevent20 community can further the work in your own country.
Q: Remind me again, why are taxes so effective at reducing smoking prevalence?
A: While a number of policy interventions available to governments seeking to reduce tobacco use, increasing tobacco tax is the single best measure for preventing and reducing smoking. This is because price plays a pivotal role in people’s decisions to smoke – the less affordable cigarettes are, the less they will be consumed. In fact, an overwhelming body of evidence confirms that a 10% increase in cigarette price causes consumption to fall on average between 4% and 8%. Higher prices influence current smokers to quit or smoke less, and prevent nonsmokers from ever starting.
Higher tobacco taxes increase government revenue while protecting the public’s health. These additional funds can be allocated to support public health programs, including cancer screening and treatment. Unfortunately, governments all too often fail to appreciate these benefits. By participating in this coalition, you can help develop the knowledge and expertise you need to help policymakers understand the win-win nature of this policy measure for both public health and government revenues.
Q: We don’t have economists on our staff. Will we be able to talk about tobacco taxation?
A: You don’t have to be an economist or have an economist on staff to join Prevent20. In fact, it’s important that policymakers, influencers and the general public hear about this issue from people like us who are not technical experts because our simple message that tobacco taxes prevent cancer will resonate across society: it gives additional resonance to our simple message that tobacco taxes prevent cancer. We know that talking about tobacco taxes can be daunting, but cancer organizations only need to convey a few simple key messages to make our point. Our resources are designed in such a way as to make this topic understandable and relatable.
If you find that you do need the assistance of an economist, there are several technical experts in the coalition who can help. Just get in touch!
Q: What about illicit trade? This is the topic that dominates the conversation when we start talking about tobacco taxes in my country.
A: The tobacco industry is behind much of the research linking tobacco tax increases with increases in illicit tobacco trade. Our own Prevent20 economists and country partners contribute to a growing body of research that proves these tobacco industry-commissioned studies overstate the scale of the problem. In addition, our technical experts help members develop simple arguments and provide facts you can use when discussing this issue with policymakers, stakeholders, and the media to rebut the tobacco industry’s messaging.
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