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September 19th, 2011:

Government, Business, Civic Campaign against Non-communicable Diseases

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19 Sept. 2011

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Chronic Disease to Cost $47 Trillion by 2030, WEF Says

19 Sept 2011

The global economic impact of the five leading chronic diseases—cancer, diabetes, mental illness, heart disease, and respiratory disease, could reach $47 trillion over the next 20 years, according to a study by the World Economic Forum (WEF).

The estimated cumulative output loss caused by the illnesses, which together already kill more than 36 million people a year and are predicted to kill tens of millions more in future, represents around 4 percent of annual global GDP over the coming two decades, the study said.

“This is not a health issue, this is an economic issue, it touches on all sectors of society,” Eva Jane-Llopis, WEF’s head of chronic disease and wellness, said in a telephone interview.

The research was published on Sunday, the eve of a two-day United Nations meeting on chronic, or non-communicable diseases (NCDs), which aims to draw up global action plans to tackle growing levels of death and illness from these costly diseases often linked to diet, tobacco, alcohol and exercise.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the worldwide NCD epidemic is expected to accelerate so that by 2030 the number of deaths from NCDs could reach 52 million a year.
While often thought of as diseases of the rich world, often linked to living on fatty, sugary foods, little exercise and too much alcohol and tobacco, NCDs now disproportionately affect those in poorer nations. More than 80 percent of NCD deaths are among people in low and middle income countries.

The WEF study, which was conducted with Harvard School of Public Health, found the cumulative costs of heart diseases, chronic respiratory diseases, cancer and diabetes in these poorer countries are expected to top $7 trillion in 2011-2025, an average of nearly $500 billion a year.

Mental health, which is typically left off lists of leading NCDs, will account for $16 trillion, a third of the overall $47 trillion anticipated costs.


Olivier Raynaud, the WEF’s senior director of health, said the study showed how families, countries and economies are losing people in their most productive years.

“Until now, we’ve been unable to put a figure on what the World Health Organization calls the ‘world’s biggest killers’,” he said in a statement. But these numbers suggest NCDs “have the potential to not only bankrupt health systems but to also put a brake on the global economy,” he added.

The U.N. meeting is the only second-ever such high-level meeting to be held on a threat to global health and has been billed as a “once in a generation” opportunity to tackle the predicted wave of these diseases.

But health organizations fear big consumer firms selling processed foods, alcohol and cigarettes could hijack the meeting to protect their own interests and persuade governments away from setting targets or making firm commitments.

The WEF study used three modeling methods to calculate the costs of NCDs, the WHO’s EPIC model, the Value of Statistical Life (VSL) approach and the Cost-Of-Illness (COI) approach.
It found mental illness and heart diseases alone account for almost 70 percent of lost output.
In 2010, the global direct and indirect cost of heart diseases, which currently kill more than 17 million people a year, was around $863 billion and is estimated to rise 22 percent to $1,044 billion by 2030.

Overall, the cost for heart diseases could be as high as $20 trillion over the 20 year period, it said.

“Think of what could be achieved if these resources were productively invested in an area like education,” WEF’s executive chairman Klaus Schwab said. “The need for immediate action is critical to the future of the global economy.”

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Cigarette Prices Should Rise 75%, Japan’s Health Minister Says

Japan’s Health Minister Yoko Komiyama

Japan's Health Minister Yoko Komiyama

Akio Kon/Bloomberg

Yoko Komiyama, Japan’s health, labor and welfare minister.

Japan’s Health Minister Yoko Komiyama

Japan's Health Minister Yoko Komiyama

Tobacco taxes in Japan should be raised until the average price for a pack of cigarettes is about 700 yen, or 75 percent more than the present level, to cut medical costs, Health MinisterYoko Komiyama said.

The ministry, which is participating in a tax panel session, will push for increasing tobacco levies by 100 yen annually for three years, Komiyama said. Most of the members of the panel agreed with the idea last year, she said.

Efforts to raise duties have been complicated by government ownership of a controlling stake inJapan Tobacco Inc. (2914), the world’s third-biggest publicly traded cigarette maker, and concerns that tax revenue may decline for the country facing the world’s largest public debt. Smoking was responsible for at least 4.3 trillion yen in medical costs and economic losses for Japan in 2005, according to a study by Institute for Health Economics and Policy.

“At that level, we can expect people who want to quit smoking to stop, while maintaining the level of tax revenue,” said Komiyama, 63, who became minister on Sept. 2. “It’s also the best way to prevent underage smoking.”

Almost 10 percent of the population under 20 years old had smoked at least once, with 1.2 percent of the age group smoking every day, according to a study funded by the health ministry in 2007.

Japan Tobacco Stake

The average price for a pack of 20 cigarettes in Japan went up by 33 percent in October last year to 400 yen, or about $5.20. That compares with the average price of $10.80 in New York City, when the city raised taxes in July last year.

The proposal to increase taxes is in accordance with the manifesto of the ruling Democratic Partyof Japan, Komiyama said. The manifesto calls for abolishing a law that requires the government to own more than half of Japan Tobacco’s outstanding shares, and that tobacco-related issues be included in the “health agenda,” she said.

The tax panel, led by Finance Minister Jun Azumi, proposes reducing the government’s stake in Japan Tobacco to a third from about half, he said on Sept. 16.

The maker of Mild Seven and Camel cigarettes has gained 16 percent this year in Tokyo trading, giving it a market value of 3.5 trillion yen ($45.5 billion). Japan Tobacco said on Sept. 6 it wants the government to sell its shares and use the funds to finance reconstruction after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that left more than 20,000 people dead or missing.

Japan Tobacco rose 2 percent to 349,000 yen on Sept. 16. Markets in Japan were closed yesterday for a public holiday.

Alfresco smoking ban push

19 Sept. 2011

WITH North Sydney Council banning smoking in alfresco dining areas, there are renewed calls for Parramatta Council to bite the bullet on the issue.

Recently, North Sydney councillors voted unanimously to ban smoking in alfresco dining areas on council land – while Parramatta is still in the throes of a 12-month survey of diners and restaurants.

North Sydney conducted a survey over six to eight weeks, on its website and through rate notices.

An overwhelming 92 per cent of the 583 participants voted for the ban.

North Sydney Council will ban smoking in alfresco dining areas and other public areas from October 1.

The council also is pushing for a statewide ban on smoking in public places.

Stafford Sanders from the ASH anti-smoking group said North Sydney’s survey’s findings were consistent with public opinion all over Sydney, including Parramatta.

“We have begun circulating a fact sheet on the effects of smoking in dining areas around venues in Parramatta because we feel that people are not being told the truth,” Mr Sanders told The Parramatta Advertiser.

Cr McDermott said that if a council such as North Sydney – a major CBD like Parramatta – could ban smoking in alfresco dining areas, so could Parramatta.

Mr Sanders said there was no evidence that restaurants suffered long-term damage by banning smoking in outside dining areas.

Lord Mayor John Chedid said Parramatta Council’s decision to implement a 12-month survey was introduced “so that it could better understand any concerns of restaurants and its patrons”.

“Parramatta is home to one of Sydney’s largest dining precincts and council is focused on providing a thorough examination of all of the health, social and economic factors so that we can make an informed decision,” Cr Chedid said.

Survey and research results are expected to go before the council by the end of the year.

U.S. researchers find target for treating smoking, alcoholism

WASHINGTON, Sept. 12 (Xinhua) — An enzyme that appears to play a role in controlling the brain’s response to nicotine and alcohol in mice might be a promising target for a drug that simultaneously would treat nicotine addiction and alcohol abuse in people, U.S. researchers find.

Over the course of four weeks, mice genetically engineered to lack the gene for protein kinase C (PKC) epsilon consumed less of a nicotine-containing water solution than normal mice, and were less likely to return to a chamber in which they had been given nicotine. In contrast, normal mice steadily increased their consumption of nicotine solution while the mice lacking PKC epsilon did not.

The study conducted by researchers at the Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center, affiliated with the University of California, San Francisco, appeared Monday in the online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

In normal mice, as in humans, nicotine binds to a certain class of nicotinic receptors located on dopamine neurons, which causes dopamine to be released in the brain. Dopamine creates a feeling of enjoyment, and thus prompts a sense of reward. Researchers found that mice lacking PKC epsilon are deficient in these nicotinic receptors.

The finding complements earlier research in which researchers found that mice genetically engineered to lack the PKC epsilon enzyme drank less alcohol than normal mice and were disinclined to return to a chamber in which they had been given alcohol.

“This could mean that these mice might not get the same sense of reward from nicotine or alcohol,” said Gallo senior associate director and investigator Robert Messing. “The enzyme looks like it regulates the part of the reward system that involves these nicotinic receptors.”

The reward system is a complex of areas in the brain that affect craving for nicotine, alcohol and other addictive substances.

The next step in the research, said Messing, would be to develop compounds that inhibit PKC epsilon. The ultimate goal, he added, would be medications that could be used “to take the edge off of addiction by helping people get over some of their reward craving.”

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