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Tax us more, world’s biggest cigarette maker tells Philip Hammond – to persuade smokers to use e-cigarettes

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/03/03/tax-us-worlds-biggest-cigarette-maker-tells-philip-hammond/

The world’s biggest tobacco company has for the first time asked to be taxed more by Chancellor Philip Hammond – to encourage smokers to switch to healthier alternatives.

Philip Morris, which makes brands such as Marlboro, said it backed an increase in taxes on its cigarettes as part of its bid to move to a “smoke-free future”.

In a Budget submission sent this week to Philip Hammond, the Chancellor, Philip Morris said “we support proportionate tax increases”.

Cancer is caused by burning the tobacco in cigarettes. Currently a packet of 20 Marlboro cigarettes costs £9.60, of which £7.10 is excise duty and VAT.

But a packet of 20 Iqos cigarettes – which heat, rather than burn the tobacco – cost £7 of which £2.94 is from excise duty and VAT. A packet of 20 Nicolite e-cigarettes cost £4.75 of which 79p is VAT.

The four page submission – a copy of which has been seen by the Telegraph – said: “Our priority is clear – to switch, as quickly as possible, hundreds of millions of adult smokers across the world to less harmful alternatives than continued smoking.

“While there is no substitute for quitting, we believe that harm reduction (ie promoting safer alternatives to those who would otherwise still smoke cigarettes) can bring significant public health benefits.”

Harm reduction was “an essential element of public health policy, and fully endorse regulatory and fiscal policies” which encourage consumers to switch from cigarettes.

Peter Nixon, UK managing director of Philip Morris, said: “We want to move towards a smoke-free future and a lot of that is incentivising people to move across from cigarettes to something that is less harmful.”

Mr Hammond is expected to confirm in Wednesday’s Budget that cigarettes will continue to be taxed at inflation plus 2 per cent.

Mr Nixon said he would not (want) taxes to be higher because that would act as an incentive for smokers to switch to illicit cigarettes that are smuggled into the UK.

MPs investing in cigarette companies, oil giants and ‘tax avoiders’ through their pension scheme

Exclusive: The Parliamentary Contributory Pension Fund also invests in several US tech giants accused by MPs themselves of avoiding tax

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/mps-pension-scheme-investment-tobacco-cigarette-bat-fossil-fuels-tax-avoidance-a7607901.html

Pensions paid to British MPs are funded by the profits of cigarette companies, international oil giants and companies who MPs themselves have accused of avoiding tax, The Independent can reveal.

The Parliamentary Contributory Pension Fund (PCPF), whose investments have never been made public before, ploughed more money into British American Tobacco (BAT) and oil giant BP and than any other two companies over the past year. Millions of pounds were also put into oil company Shell and controversial mining firm Rio Tinto, the list of investments shows.

The figures show BAT and BP received roughly £5.59m in investment each from MPs in 2016.

Pension funds, which channel billions of pounds to all corners of the economy, have come under pressure from campaigners to stop profiting from industries that contribute towards environmental disaster, ill health and conflict.

The £621m MP pension fund’s top 20 holdings also includes three US tech companies – Amazon, Google and Apple – that have been accused by MPs themselves of avoiding tax. Another top 20 investment is WPP, the advertising giant at the centre of a 2012 shareholder revolt on the £12.93m pay packet for its CEO Martin Sorrell.

Green MP and party co-leader Caroline Lucas, who has been pressuring the fund to reveal what it invests in for years, said the investment strategy was “deeply questionable” and that that in the case of tobacco investments there was “no excuse” for profiting from “one of the greatest public health crises of our time”.

“After years of resistance, the Parliamentary Contributory Pension Fund has finally come clean and made public their top 20 holdings. This is a good first step but, as expected, the fund has a deeply questionable investment strategy investing in dirty energy and tobacco,” she told The Independent.

“The long-term financial risks associated with oil, coal and gas assets are well known, yet the trustees of the PCPF are refusing to even meet with fund members to discuss this issue.

“If we are to prevent the worst of climate change, then we must rapidly transition away from an economy run on fossil fuels by investing in the renewable energy that we have in abundance. It’s right that the MPs should lead the way on this transition.

“It is well within the scope of the fiduciary duty of pension fund trustees to account for non-financial factors – there is therefore no excuse for profiting from tobacco, an industry that is responsible for one of the greatest public health crises of our time.”

In 2014, former MP Brian Donohoe, chair of the fund’s trustee board, said tobacco investments would be “amoral” but that he did not think the fund should withdraw from investments in fossil fuels.

Health charity Ash told The Independent the revelations about tobacco investments were disturbing because they were fuelling “so much preventable illness and misery”.

“A large majority of MPs and peers understand the terrible damage that smoking does and support strong action to cut smoking rates,” said Deborah Arnott, the charity’s chief executive.

“I think they will be disturbed to see that the parliamentary pension fund is investing in an industry whose products still kill more than 100,000 people across the UK every year.

“I understand that fund trustees have a duty to get a good return from their investments, but this can be achieved without supporting an industry that causes so much preventable illness and misery.”

A number of local councils, which manage more than £230bn in pension fund investments, have led the way in divesting from fossil fuels and in imposing ethical investment policies. Authorities including Oxford City Council, Waltham Forest, and South Yorkshire have been among the first to move to divest from fossil fuels. The PCPF’s trustees, however, say it would not be lawful for them to make sweeping judgments about whether certain investments were ethical or not.

The Church of England has previously come under fire for investing in Google and said it would limit investments in fossil fuel producers.

The MP fund’s top investments as of March 2016 were £55m in UK government bonds; £5.9m in British American Tobacco; £5.9m in BP; and £4.9m apiece in Diageo, Vodafone, HSBC, Royal Dutch Shell and Reckitt Benckiser.

It also invests £3.7m in pharmaceutical company GSK; £3.1m apiece in US Treasury bonds, Lloyds Bank, and Nestle; and £2.5m in BT, JP Morgan Chase, and Google. Rio Tinto, Apple, Amazon, Hartford Financial Services and WPP net around £1.9m each from the fund. The remaining 80 per cent of the fund is invested in other smaller holdings.

ShareAction, which campaigns for responsible investments, told The Independent that the new information showed MPs like Ms Lucas were “fully justified” in their campaign to challenge the fund.

“It’s positive to see greater disclosure from the PCPF following a year of vigorous efforts by MPs to demand a more transparent approach from their scheme,” said Catherine Howarth, the group’s chief executive.

“Many MPs will be dispirited to learn that the scheme’s largest holdings are tobacco giant, BAT, and troubled oil giant, BP. In the week NEST revealed plans for a low-carbon global equities strategy, having outperformed the PCPF’s investment returns in the year gone, it would seem MPs are fully justified in challenging their trustees for answers on carbon and climate risk.”

It is understood that a group of MPs opposed to such investments are considering legal action against the pension fund if policies are not changed.

When approached for comment, the pension fund’s secretariat referred The Independent to the House of Commons media office. The media office provided a copy of the fund’s policy statement on ethical investing, which has been signed off by the board of trustees.

It says that “trustees [of the fund] are legally unable to exclude certain investments on ethical grounds” because “the rage of views” among its members means it would be “almost impossible for the trustees to conclude that scheme members would share a moral viewpoint on any one ethical issue”.

“This means that the trustees could not lawfully take a decision to exclude a certain type of investment from the PCPF’s investment portfolio on ethical grounds,” the policy statement continues.

“However, it is important to mention that the trustees do believe that environmental, social and corporate governance issues can have a material impact on the long-term performance of its investments.

“As such the fund is a signatory to the Financial Reporting Council’s Stewardship Code and as such expects its investment managers to take account of ESG considerations as part of their investment analysis and decision making process. Furthermore, the Trustees, and all of the Fund’s managers are also signatories to the FRC Stewardship Code.”

Bedford lost £14m last year due to smoking breaks

Figures released this week show smoking costs Bedford borough’s economy almost £34million a year.

But the biggest cost to the economy is not early deaths (£8.79million), smoking-related disease (£4.25million) or lost productivity because of sick days (£2.48million), says Action on Smoking and Health (ASH).

Instead the big cost is from people taking smoking breaks – reckoned to have cost Bedford firms nearly £14million last year because of lost productivity.

Councillor Louise Jackson, portfolio holder for public health, said: “Both councils and the NHS are experiencing severe funding pressures so these costs are not sustainable.

“Smoking remains the single largest cause of preventable death and illness in Bedford Borough, and the council provides free advice and support to help smokers to stop.

“People who use the stop smoking service are up to four times more likely to quit and last year we helped more than 700 people to successfully stop.

“For advice and support call 0800 013 0553.”

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of ASH, said: “We know that most local authorities remain committed to reducing smoking but key services are under threat from public health funding cuts.”

http://www.bedfordtoday.co.uk/news/bedford-lost-14m-last-year-due-to-smoking-breaks-1-7801719

Stub it out: Smoking challenge for hospitals in Wales

On a crisp afternoon a group of school children stand outside Prince Charles Hospital holding their handmade no smoking posters.

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-wales-38692344

“Please don’t smoke outside our hospitals”, they shout in unison.

As ambulances pull up outside the Merthyr Tydfil A&E department, the 10 and 11 year-olds watch as patients and visitors light up, puffing smoke into the air.

“We’ve seen a number of people smoking next to no smoking signs”, their teacher Kelly-Anne Crane said.

In the last six months alone 783 smokers at Prince Charles and Royal Glamorgan hospitals, in Llantrisant, have been asked to stub it out by security guards.

Cwm Taf University Health Board – who manage the sites – say they are doing everything they can but people have a “total disregard” to the signs plastered across their NHS grounds.

And they are not alone. While all seven health boards in Wales have smoke free policies in place they say they are “powerless” to stop people lighting up, as they are not yet backed by legislation and so smokers are not breaking any laws.

The Public Health Wales Bill – which is currently going through the Assembly for the second time – would make it illegal to smoke on hospital grounds, giving the board’s the much needed legal backing to issue fines to smokers flaunting the rules.

The Welsh Government said the bill will “build on existing voluntary smoking bans in order to aid enforcement”.

Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board – who manage hospitals across north Wales – said the public “do not respect” requests to not smoke on their sites.

They said that without legislation to back them up they had to rely on the “courtesy and consideration of smokers” not to light up, and despite extensive signage and recorded messages triggered a cigarette is sensed nearby, people still ignored their policy.

A spokesman said: “We do encourage members of staff to challenge smokers who are causing a nuisance but unfortunately this can provoke a negative or aggressive reaction, which understandably makes busy colleagues reluctant to continue asking people to put out their cigarettes or move away from entrances.”

It is not just the contradictory image of patients in dressing gowns smoking outside the place they are being treated which concerns health boards and bodies like the British Medical Association (BMA).

Health boards have concerns about smoke drifting through windows into wards, passive smoking, and the impressionability of the growing number of young people receiving treatment on their sites.

Cwm Taf are now hoping the words of children will make people think twice about smoking outside their buildings.

Local school children like those from Cyfarthfa High, have designed special posters detailing the dangers of smoking.

If the posters fail the board is considering introducing push-button tannoys – which staff, patients and visitors can trigger if they spot someone defying the rules – which could use children’s voices to tell smokers to stub it out.

Dr Chris Jones, chair of Cwm Taf, said: “Hospitals are for people who are sick and smoking causes illness.

“I don’t think the health board is enforcing anything, we are encouraging people do to the right thing.

“We offer support and advice: it is not about being oblivious to the fact that giving up is difficult, but there is evidence that adults listen to children.”

Hywel Dda University Health Board already has a push-button system at the entrances to their acute hospitals, but said it has not stopped some people.

A spokesman said: “Everyone has the right to breathe fresh air, especially when visiting a healthcare facility, and we regularly receive complaints about people smoking on our sites.

“We understand that visiting a hospital can sometimes be a stressful experience but we expect smokers to adhere to our smoke free policy and they should anticipate being asked to leave our hospital sites if they wish to continue smoking.”

Cardiff enforcement officers challenged 6,708 smokers outside the University Hospital of Wales and University Hospital Llandough, in two years.

Trina Nealon, principal health promotion specialist for Cardiff and Vale University Health Board said hundreds of people were challenged every month.

While there have been no reported cases of verbal or physical abuse against staff challenging smokers, the board said it knows some staff feel uncomfortable challenging visitors and patients who are dealing with stressful situations.

“We are not taking away anything from anyone,” Ms Nealon said, adding that patients were given support to try and quit smoking on admission.

“How we see it is smoking is an addiction, and we are giving people an opportunity to actually give up that addiction.

“Generally speaking people are receptive and they put out their cigarette, understanding that they are in a hospital where people are there to get better and are there to get treated.”

‘Culture change’

Aneurin Bevan University Health Board said that while there had been a significant reduction in smoking at their hospitals “disappointingly there are some people who will continue to smoke despite all the messages.”

Powys was the only health board who said they had little difficulty with smoking – “possibly as a result of only having community hospitals”

While there is hope that the new legislation would help health boards to challenge smokers, they appear to be under no illusion that the threat of fines will stub out the problem for good.

“It may not stop them smoking. We are hoping that it will lead to a culture change and people will accept that smoking in a hospital setting shouldn’t be allowed,” said Ms Nealon.

University seeks heavy smokers for landmark study on e-cigarette safety

http://www.standard.co.uk/news/health/university-seeks-heavy-smokers-for-first-study-on-ecigarette-safety-a3455371.html

A university is seeking smokers to take part in the first study into the long-term safety of switching to e-cigarettes.

Researchers at St George’s, University of London, want to assess the impact on the risk of cancer, brain activity, and quality of life indicators such as sleep.

The pilot study, which is looking for 100 volunteers, is part of the EU’s £3.4 million Smoke Free Brain project.

It is being carried out with Public Health England and its results could help determine whether e-cigarettes are offered on the NHS as a smoking cessation aid.

E-cigarettes have been available for a decade and are used by 2.8 million UK adults.

A report last year from the Royal College of Physicians said the long-term risks of vaping were unlikely to exceed five per cent of those associated with smoking, and called for e-cigarettes to be promoted as a tobacco substitute.

However, PHE says “reasonable concerns” remain about the long-term health risks and public health impacts, with “variable” research and “poorly sourced scare stories” in the media.

There is no e-cigarette product available that can be prescribed on the NHS.

The study will require participants to attend a clinic at St George’s hospital, in Tooting, six times over a month to give blood, saliva and urine samples and undergo electroencephalography, a non-invasive brain monitoring tool.

Those taking part will be “heavy smokers” — more than 10 a day for at least six months. The study aims to find ways to help people quit for good.

Dr Alexis Bailey, senior lecturer in neuropharmacology at St George’s university, said: “We are looking for smokers who want to quit smoking and transition to e-cigarettes for a period of one month.

“E-cigarettes have proved enormously popular, partly because of the harm reduction compared with smoking traditional cigarettes.

However, there is still considerable debate in the scientific community over just how much safer they are and how good they are for smoking cessation.

It is imperative for us to look at the science behind this and get the full toxicological picture.”

The main objective is to monitor how the measures of toxicity change when people switch to e-cigarettes.

Although e-cigarette aerosol does not contain many of the harmful chemicals present in tobacco smoke, it does typically contain nicotine and other chemicals.

The first results are expected in a year. Dr Bailey said: “There are many studies looking at e-cigarette use in terms of smoking cessation and various respiratory disorders and cardiovascular disease.

“What is different from our study is nobody else has measured the effect of transitioning from smoking to e-cigarettes on various toxicity markers which could potentially induce cancer.

“We are expecting to see these markers quite elevated in chronic smokers, and once they transition to e-cigarettes, these carcinogenic markers to reduce.

“I think we are doing a very important study. It has the potential to drive policy.”

Standardised Packaging and Tobacco Products Directive

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Cautious on heat-not-burn

The European Commission is in favor of a cautious approach to heat-not-burn products because it believes that there is a lack of evidence relating to the short- and long-term health effects of using such devices.

This was part of the answer given by the Commission to questions raised by the Belgian MEP, Frédérique Ries.

In a preamble to her questions, Ries said that Philip Morris International had said that it intended to market its new ‘device for smoking’ in the UK, following its initial launch in Japan, Italy and Switzerland.

‘The distinctive feature of this new product, which has been named iQOS, is that it stands on the borderline between traditional cigarettes and electronic cigarettes,’ she said.

‘The major difference between iQOS and electronic cigarettes is that while the latter use a liquid transformed into vapor, IQOS heats the tobacco and keeps it burning [iQOS has been designed so as not to burn the tobacco it contains, only to heat it, as is implied in part of the Commission’s reply], which is very harmful to health.’

Ries asked whether the Commission concurred with health experts who claimed that marketing a hybrid tobacco product of this kind was a ploy to circumvent legislation in force and, in particular, all the requirements laid down in Article 19 of Directive 2014/40/EU concerning novel tobacco products.

‘What steps will the Commission take to thwart the strategies employed by cigarette manufacturers to sell alternative products that are still just as harmful to people’s health?’ she asked.

‘Will the Commission take this opportunity to alter its negative views on electronic cigarettes, which, as a growing number of cancer experts in the EU are now pointing out, do not contain any tobacco or tar and are helping many people to stop smoking?’

In reply, the Commission said it was closely monitoring the developments related to new tobacco products, including “heated not burned” tobacco products.

‘Currently, there is lack of evidence relating to short-term and long-term health effects and use patterns of these products,’ it said. ‘Therefore the Commission is in favour of a cautious approach.

‘At the same time, the Commission would like to underline that with regard to the sale, presentation and manufacturing of these products within the European Union, the relevant provisions of the Tobacco Products Directive apply and should be enforced. This includes the ban on misleading elements foreseen by Article 13 and notably any suggestions that a particular tobacco product is less harmful than others.

The Commission oversees whether member states fully and correctly apply the provisions of the directive.

‘With regard to e-cigarettes, given the lack of conclusive evidence relating to the long-term health effects, use patterns and potential to facilitate smoking cessation, Article  20 of the directive contains their regulation with an emphasis on safety, quality and consumer protection.

‘The rules for e-cigarettes nevertheless allow these products to remain widely available to consumers. A recent Commission report COM (2016) 269 underlines a number of  potential risks to public health relating to the use of ecigarettes, at the same time highlighting the need for further research.’

Tobacco control measures found to be cost-effective, says WHO report

A report (link is external) from the National Cancer Institute in the US and the World Health Organisation has found that tobacco control measures are highly cost-effective, but under-used in some countries.

http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-us/cancer-news/news-report/2017-01-13-tobacco-control-measures-found-to-be-cost-effective-says-who-report

The report also states that tobacco control doesn’t harm economies, and reduces the impact smoking has on poorer communities.

“Smoking is the single most preventable cause of death in the world” – George Butterworth, Cancer Research UK

Tobacco control measures include tax increases, bans on advertising, including health warnings on packages, policies to restrict where people can smoke and programmes to help them quit.

“This valuable report highlights the substantial financial cost of tobacco,” said George Butterworth, tobacco policy manager at Cancer Research UK. “It’s good to see that the most cost effective measures – tobacco tax and price increases – are being called for as part of comprehensive tobacco control strategies.”

Smoking accounts for 1 in 4 UK cancer deaths and nearly 1 in 5 of all cancer cases.

“The human cost of the tobacco industry is enormous,” said Butterworth. “Smoking is the single most preventable cause of death in the world, killing almost 6 million people worldwide and 100,000 people in the UK each year.”

The report states that, while effective measures to reduce smoking rates are available, they don’t yet cover the vast majority of the world’s population. And where taxes are used, the money is rarely invested in health programmes.

The report also finds that people in poorer communities stand to benefit most from tobacco control measures, due to the proportion of income spent on tobacco and negative health effects it causes in these areas.

In the UK, a ban on smoking in public places as well as tobacco advertising restrictions, including picture warnings of health issues and standardised packaging, are all in place.

“Cancer Research UK’s ambition to see a Tobacco-Free country by 2035, where less than 5 per cent of adults smoke, is in line with the UK’s commitment to the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control,” Butterworth added.

But Stop Smoking Services across England are facing ongoing budget cuts after 6 in 10 local authorities were forced to reduce their funding in the last year.

Illegal trade, and the fact that 5 tobacco companies account for 85% of the global cigarette market, were both highlighted by the report as challenges for future control efforts.

The report also warns against relaxing the progress made across the world in controlling tobacco, and calls for continued research and use of evidence-based policies.

Dr Robert Croyle, Director of the National Cancer Institute’s Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences, said: “The global scale of suffering, death, and disease from tobacco use is staggering. Millions of early deaths can be prevented if nations adopt evidence-based tobacco control policies.”

UK’s detailed TPD plans suggest light-touch approach

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Governments To Introduce Super Tax On Tobacco Industry

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/david-green/governments-to-introduce-_b_13966906.html

Cigarettes are the most effective killing machine on the planet. Something radical has to be done to stop 1 in 7 of children becoming smokers.

1 billion people smoke cigarettes which in time will kill half of its users amounting to over 6 million people each year. That’s equivalent to wiping out the population of Britain in a decade.

Meanwhile, the world leading tobacco companies boast an income of $315 billion and the top 6 companies make profits of $44bn.

Tobacco deaths account for 20% of all cancer cases. 14 million people are diagnosed with cancer each year. And before people buy into the highly addictive E- cigarettes as the ‘healthy’ option, according to the World Cancer Report, they contain 3,000 chemicals and 28 carcinogens with similar nasties as cigarettes.

Just as 1,000 leading doctors are calling on Theresa May to create a brave new policy on smoking, a bold clear thinking leader could easily introduce a Super Tax forcing tobacco companies to set aside monies to build and run standalone cancer hospitals exclusively for the use of its loyal customers that they are killing. This would reduce substantial pressure on hospitals and release monies to care for people who do not choose habits that make them ill.

There are enough people sadly affected by illness not of their own making, so let’s eradicate the illnesses that are of our making and penalise the industries that make money out of suffering.

Every problem can be solved if we deal with the cause. It’s all about the cause but who wants to deal with the cause?

Obama just announced a bill to spend $6.3 billion to fight cancer over the next decade. Very admirable.

BUT how stupid are we?

Over 2.5 million of cancer deaths per year are avoidable. Main causes being SMOKING, OVEREATING, ALCOHOL ABUSE.

It’s a sad fact of life that we are safest and cause less harm to ourselves and others when we are asleep!

Just as governments found the banks to be sitting ducks to fine handsomely for their misdemeanours, there is far higher justification to target the tobacco companies to save lives, save tax-payers money, save grief, save pain and save suffering.

Our addictions and bad habits cause the majority of our problems but only when we accept this brutal naked truth do we realise we have the power to change ourselves rather than pollute ourselves. Life is tough enough without making ourselves ill.

Many amazing people help and inspire us to overcome our addictions, yet governments are slow to do what is right to implement radical and aggressive change. It should be mandatory for school children to visit cancer wards from a young age to see the effects of cigarette and alcohol abuse as part of the curriculum as well as drug addiction facilities to witness how drugs can destroy people.

I have recently been staying in Manhattan Beach, a smoke free city in California. Here you can’t smoke outside anywhere. Someone made it happen. Other cities and countries could easily follow.

On Christmas Day, the legendary George Michael passed away. On the same day, a brave friend of mine Murray Goldstein also left us. Murray had an important message for the smokers in the world:

“My father was a heavy smoker all his life. He lived to 90 with the occasional cough. Had I known then that he was the exception to the rule I probably would never have become addicted. But in those days, there was no information available that told you smoking was bad for the health.

I smoked a few packets a day from the age of 16 and had a heart attack in my 30s because of smoking and poor diet. I carried on smoking which ruined my chance of a healthy life.

The last 12 years have been a form of purgatory as I have developed COPD – chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – which is irreversible, fighting for every breath. My world has revolved around my illness, affecting my near and dear ones especially my wife who has made a great sacrifice to care for me. During the last few years I have needed 24 hour care and the emergency services have revived me several times.

My advice to present day smokers – GIVE IT UP BEFORE YOU GET ILL – it’s not as hard as you think. Don’t wait until the first heart attack or the news that you have cancer. Please learn from my mistakes. I stopped 8 years ago and have never had any cravings and I was a forty-a-day man for years!”

Congratulations to all smokers who finally kick the habit and take Murray’s advice.

Meanwhile, our leaders would do well to reflect on Gandhi’s wise words:

“The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would solve most of the world’s problems.