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This World Lung Cancer Day, 1 August 2017, The Union urges governments to increase tobacco taxes – the most powerful measure for cutting smoking rates – to help prevent lung cancer. Uniting with the Forum for International Respiratory Societies (FIRS), The Union commemorates, celebrates and supports those impacted by lung cancer.

Smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke are leading causes of lung cancer, which is the most common, and the most deadly, form of cancer globally. In 2012 there were an estimated 1.8 million new cases of the disease, and 58 percent of these occurred in low- and middle-income countries. In the same year, 1.6 million people died from lung cancer.

Lung cancer deaths are still increasing, despite advances in global efforts to reduce tobacco use. 180 countries are now Party to the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control – a legally-binding health treaty which requires governments to implement policies proven to reduce tobacco use.

‘Increasing tobacco taxes to ensure that tobacco products become increasingly unaffordable is a core policy to the WHO FCTC. Although it is the most effective measure for encouraging smokers to quit and ensuring young people do not take up smoking, very few countries have a policy in place that meets WHO recommendations,’ said Dr Gan Quan, Director of The Union’s Department of Tobacco Control. ‘If governments are serious about preventing people developing lung cancer and other serious non-communicable diseases, strategic tobacco taxes must be adopted.’

WHO’s latest Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic (PDF 5 MB), published last month, revealed that the number of countries with an effective tobacco tax policy had actually decreased in recent years – in 2016 just 32 countries had a policy that met WHO recommendations.

The Union is a member of FIRS, an organization consisting of the world’s leading international respiratory societies working together to improve lung health globally. The goal of FIRS is to unify and enhance efforts to improve lung health through the combined work of its more than 70,000 members globally.

Find out more about tobacco taxes.


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The Tobacco Control Department is based at The Union Europe Office, Edinburgh, registered charity no. SC039880
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