The politics of tobacco

Hong Kong Med J. 1998 Dec;4(4):411-414.


Smoking prevalence and tobacco-attributable mortality will increase substantially in the Asia- Pacific region well into the next century, due to population expansion, ageing populations, and the fact that more women are smoking. The economic costs of tobacco, already substantial, will rise. Of particular concern is the penetration of the region by the transnational tobacco companies, which deny the health evidence of the harm from tobacco, use sophisticated promotions, and lobby to oppose tobacco control measures. There is an urgent need for robust tobacco control action to be taken by every country, but many governments have little experience in combatting this new epidemic or in countering the tobacco companies. They are needlessly concerned that tobacco control action will harm their economy, leading to loss of tax revenue and jobs. Arguments to convince governments must be shaped to address economic issues and illustrate that such action is not only good for a nation's health, but also good for its economy.