Researchers at the World Congress on Public Health in Melbourne available for interview
Prabhat Jha, Centre for Global Health Research (Toronto, Canada)
Nearly 80% of the world's 1 billion smokers live in low- and middle-income countries. Despite that, global annual cigarette sales rose from 5 trillion sticks in 1990 to about 6 trillion today. Prabhat Jha has been a key figure in epidemiology and economics of global health for the past decade, particularly influential in tobacco control. He estimates that if excise taxes were tripled worldwide, this would avoid about 200 million deaths by the end of this century.
The Melbourne cancer scientist who took on big tobacco – Bronwyn King, Tobacco Free Portfolios
Why do many government sovereign wealth funds invest in the tobacco industry, while their health budgets pay the high costs of lung cancer? And why do pension funds, insurers, banks and fund managers invest in, lend to or seek to profit from a product that kills about half of its customers?
When former Peter Mac lung cancer oncologist Bronwyn King discovered she was unwittingly investing in tobacco through her superannuation fund, she decided to do something about it and founded Tobacco Free Portfolios. She now leads a global team working with finance leaders around the world to influence public health through its overlap with the financial sector.
Her work in the divestment movement has contributed to a total of approximately AUD $5 billion being withdrawn from investment in the tobacco industry. In Australia, 40% of pension funds are now free. In 2016, Australia's largest health insurer implemented a tobacco-free investment policy. Fund managers have brought new tobacco-free products to market to meet the demand.
With examples from Australia, Sweden, France, Ireland, and the USA, Bronwyn will discuss how disentangling the finance sector from tobacco will be a long-term transition, but one that is essential for comprehensive tobacco control.
Meet the man behind Australia’s tobacco plain packaging laws – Mike Daube, Curtin University
Big Tobacco with their armies of lawyers; multinational companies with huge advertising budgets; sports sponsorship and its subtle ability to associate unhealthy products with healthy activity – the modern public health battleground pits science-based policy against the mighty dollar.
Mike Daube says the single most important obstacle for effective public health advocacy remains ruthless and determined opposition from powerful global and national industries and companies that are both vectors of disease and unrelenting in their efforts to prevent any action that would run counter to their interests. How do we make them accountable?
Mike will receive the World Federation of Public Health Associations highest honour, the Hugh Leavell Award for Outstanding Global Health Leadership.
The World Congress on Public Health is on from 3 to 7 April at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre.
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