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What Governments Can Do to Address Cancer

February 04, 2017

Dr. Kelly Henning is the public health program lead at Bloomberg Philanthropies.

World-Cancer-Day-LogoWhile much work remains to find a cure for cancer — the good news is we know that many forms of cancer are preventable. On World Cancer Day, a moment when the global community comes together to reflect on those lost to cancer, as well as the advances we need to make to find a cure,  it's important to remember that there are actions that governments and individuals can take to prevent cancer. In fact, governments hold many levers that can actually address this leading killer.

For example, governments — both at the national and municipal levels — can and should take on tobacco. A staggering twenty-two percent of all cancer deaths are tobacco-related. One of the most effective strategies to cut into tobacco use is to raise tobacco taxes, which not only reduces use but also increases government revenue. When Bloomberg Philanthropies founder Mike Bloomberg served as mayor of New York City, mortality rates from cancer declined 6.4 percent compared to 2001. 

While we can't definitively say this was the direct result of one action, we do know that efforts to curb tobacco — like implementing bans on smoking in work places and public spaces, raising the price through increased taxes, and airing hard-hitting media campaigns, had important  impact....

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