The report was co-authored by American Cancer Society (ACS) and Vital Strategies, and released at the 17th World Congress on Tobacco OR Health in Cape Town, South Africa. It indicates areas where where progress has been made in relation to tobacco control, and illustrates the latest products and tactics being used by Big Tobacco to increase their profit margins.
“Every death from tobacco is preventable, and every government has the power reduce the human and economic toll of the tobacco epidemic,” said Jeffrey Drope, PhD, co-editor and author of The Atlas and Vice President, Economic and Health Policy Research at the American Cancer Society.
“It starts by resisting the influence of the industry and implementing proven tobacco control policies. The Atlas shows that progress is possible in every region of the world. African countries in particular are at a critical point – both because they are targets of the industry but also because many have opportunity to strengthen policies and act before smoking is at epidemic levels,” added Drope.
An agency to monitor Big Tobacco’s activities
The agency named Stop (Stopping Tobacco Organisations and Products), aims to “aggressively monitor deceptive tobacco industry tactics and practices to undermine public health,” said Bloomberg Philanthropies. The agency’s public website will even contain global information and data on the activities of tobacco companies, in low- and middle-income countries where they are seeking to expand their markets, in order to make up for the declining smoking rates in the West.
Just like the release of The Atlas, the Stop agency was launched at the Tobacco Conference in Cape Town. This event is believed to be hosting about 3,000 anti-tobacco health and policy experts, and seems to be quickly turning out into a major anti Big Tobacco movement, rather than an event that encourages dialogue amongst all interested parties with the aim of resolving the current smoking epidemic.
Inclusion and dialogue could be more effective than hostility
Anti-smoking expert David Sweanor, an Adjunct Professor at the Centre for Health Law, Policy & Ethics at University of Ottawa, is trying to raise awareness about the detrimental effect that such an approach could have.
“It has been concerning to me to see so much said about tobacco company motivations, and about Philip Morris in particular, with so much apparent misunderstanding of the dynamics in play,” said Sweanor in a post shared by public health expert Clive Bates on his blog page.
“Much of the tobacco control community sees itself as in a battle against Big Tobacco, but oddly has very little apparent interest in seeking to understand the industry. The result is a struggle against a caricature of an enemy rather than the rational pursuit of a goal,” added Sweanor.
Read Further: Medical Press