Global call for government action against cancer

A major international cancer organisation has called on governments to do more to reduce the burden of cancer ahead of World Cancer Day.

The Union for International Control (UICC), based in Geneva, Switzerland, urges governments to prevent millions of avoidable cancer-related deaths by taking action on tobacco, alcohol and ultra-processed foods.

Mortality and morbidity from cancer is rising globally, particularly in low- and middle-income countries.

This could be reduced with four policy actions: greater taxation, limits on advertising, better labelling and more public education, they state ahead of World Cancer Day on 4 February.

Higher taxation on cigarettes has a clear impact on consumption, particularly among younger smokers, they explain. The UK ban on pre-watershed tv junk food advertising has reduced obesity-related ill health in children, they add.

Cary Adams of the UICC said: “Millions of avoidable cancer deaths are caused by unhealthy products sold by heartless companies who interfere in policy debates and misuse science to secure a favourable commercial environment.

"As we celebrate World Cancer Day, UICC stands ready to support governments in their efforts to limit people’s exposure to tobacco, alcohol and ultra-processed food products.”

Professor Jeff Dunn, also of UICC, added: “Australia was one of the first countries to ban tobacco advertising and the first to impose plain packaging for cigarettes. These policies have led to less brand identification, lower acceptance of smoking, better perception of health risks, reduced uptake among youth and more adults quitting.

"Similar policies for alcohol and ultra-processed foods, aligned with the particular risks of these products, will help blunt the unscrupulous marketing strategies of some companies who target youth and other vulnerable populations with their unhealthy products.”

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