World Health Assembly Supports Alcohol Taxation
Convening in the Palais des Nations, Geneva the 70th session of the World Health Assembly (WHA70) adopted a resolution in support of taxation on alcohol, tobacco and sugar. The WHA is the highest decision-making body of the World Health Organization, convening every year in May, at the United Nations in Geneva.
Best buys endorsed by countries
Under agenda item “Noncommunicable diseases”, delegates of WHO Member States endorsed an updated set of policy options and interventions to help countries meet global targets to prevent and control NCDs. The new set includes 16 interventions known as “best buys” within WHO’s global action plan for the prevention and control of NCDs 2013-2020.
The effectiveness of the “best buys” has recently been re-examined and reaffirmed by the WHO Secretariat.
Particular focus is placed on measures to reduce people’s exposure to NCDs risk factors, including through
- Taxation of alcohol, tobacco and sugar-sweetened beverages;
- Banning alcohol and tobacco advertising, and
- Reformulation of food products to reduce salt content.
Delegates noted WHO’s work to advance the NCD agenda, including the ongoing preparations for the third United Nations General Assembly High-level meeting on the prevention and control of NCDs to be held in 2018.
Wide agreement and a little resistance
Cancer, diabetes, heart disease and chronic respiratory diseases, the four major NCDs, are killing millions of people each year, making NCDs the leading cause of deaths worldwide, many of them premature.
This week, the World Health Assembly endorsed an updated set of policy options for countries to help them with the prevention and control of those diseases. On the list is a suggestion for tax increases on tobacco products and alcoholic beverages, and the reduction of salt intake. Supported by many countries, it was resisted by the United States and Italy.
But ultimately the United States were isolated and felt the pressure from countries around the world to follow the evidence, instead of ideology. After negotiations and civil society advocacy, Member States eventually proceeded by endorsing the so called Appendix 3, thereby giving their support to these high-impact, evidence-based measures curbing NCDs risk factors.