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August 13th, 2016:

Researchers find tobacco use linked to most fatal form of stroke

A possible link between a deadly form of stroke and smoking has been discovered by scientists.

Researchers in Finland found a sharp drop in the number of people who suffered a subarachnoid haemorrhage – the most fatal form of stroke – occurred in the same period as a decline in smoking numbers.

Between 1998 and 2012, the number of people who smoked plunged 30% among 15 to 64-year-olds in the country, the study found.

During this time, cases of the killer stroke also went down by 45% among women under 50 and 38% among men under 50, as well as by 16% among women over 50 and 26% among men over 50.

Scientists said they could not establish whether the change in smoking habits caused the drop, but it was “highly likely” Finnish tobacco policies played a role.

A British charity said the findings were a “wake-up call” to smokers.

In recent years, Finland has slashed smoking numbers through a series of public health campaigns and legislative action against the sale of tobacco and its use in public.

Professor Jaakko Kaprio of the University of Helsinki said of the findings, which were published in the journal Neurology: “It is extraordinary for the incidence of any cardiovascular disease to decrease so rapidly at the population level in such a short time.

“Even though we cannot demonstrate a direct causation in nation-wide studies, it is highly likely that the national tobacco policies in Finland have contributed to the decline in the incidence of this type of severe brain haemorrhage.”

Health charity Ash said the findings should motivate smokers in the UK to quit.

Chief executive Deborah Arnott said: “The Finnish study is a wake-up call to smokers.

“They need to know that if they don’t quit smoking they’re twice as likely to die from stroke than non-smokers.

“But stopping smoking can be tough, which is why it is so important to ensure that all smokers are given the best possible support and encouragement to give up.”

Reject tobacco industry’s claims about tobacco taxes that increases tobacco smuggling, one of its business strategies

‘The tobacco industry is complicit in illegal trade. Smuggling is one of its business strategies.’ – WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan, once stated at the 16th World Conference on Tobacco or Health.

According to the Article 6 of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), the most effective approach to controlling the spread of tobacco use is through policies that directly reduce the demand for it. There are many valuable ways of going about this, from advertising bans to public smoking prohibitions, but the most potent and cost-effective option for governments everywhere is the simple elevation of tobacco prices by use of consumption taxes.

The tobacco industry claims that “Higher tobacco taxes will increase smuggling. Tax increases on tobacco products will lead to increased smuggling, illegal cigarette production and related criminal activity.”

If any other person brings in the same argument to obstruct the proposal of the President Maithripala Sirisena, submitted recently to the Cabinet, to increase tax on cigarettes at 90 percent, can we just ignore that the tobacco industry is ‘not behind this deal’?

Why this person is soft-hearted towards this multi-billion industry, when poor people are down trodden?

The truth behind this lame excuse is the following;

Tobacco taxes are not the primary reason for cigarette smuggling and cigarette tax avoidance.

A recent study of illicit trade in Europe reinforced earlier findings that factors other than price influence illicit trade.

These include:

How easy it is for smugglers to operate in a country, including the cost;

The participation of the tobacco industry;

How well crime networks are organized;

The likelihood of being caught, and the punishments, and

Corruption levels.

Many countries have significantly increased tobacco taxes without experiencing changes in smuggling/illicit productions.

Experience shows that these illegal activities can be controlled by legislative or regulatory means (e.g. use of prominent tax stamps, serial numbers, special package markings, health warning labels in local languages) and by customs and law enforcement (e.g. improving corporate auditing, better tracking systems, and good governance) and stronger penalties for violators. Revenue generated by a tax increase can finance these activities.

Higher tobacco taxes produce higher tax revenues.

The demand for tobacco products is inelastic, which means that the proportionate reduction in demand for tobacco is smaller than the proportionate size of tax increase.

So, even though demand is reduced when taxes and prices increase, the higher tax rate will result in overall increases in tax revenues.