Cancer Research UK invests £5 million to fight tobacco

Cancer Research UK

Cancer Research UK today (Monday) is investing £5 million in a new international research partnership to fight the spread of tobacco in countries where tobacco-related cancer has the greatest impact.

"Tobacco consumption is a burning platform that requires an urgent global solution. Governments around the world have committed to reduce tobacco use by 30 per cent by 2025. This won't be achieved by words alone." - Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK

Cancer Research UK along with its cancer fighting partners - the Union for International Cancer Control, the US National Cancer Institute and Cancer Council Australia - are formally uniting to further the research into evidence-based tobacco control, to reduce the millions of tobacco-related deaths that occur across the world each year.

Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK's chief executive, said: "Tobacco consumption is a burning platform that requires an urgent global solution. Governments around the world have committed to reduce tobacco use by 30 per cent by 2025. This won't be achieved by words alone.

"We have to reduce the huge number of lives affected by tobacco and we hope that the announcement of this global consortium, backed up by this initial investment pledge, will help expand tobacco control research in the countries which need it most. We will generate locally relevant evidence that will be capable of being implemented rapidly. If we act together, we could save 200 million of the one billion tobacco deaths that we will otherwise see this century."

Tobacco remains the world’s single most preventable cause of death and disease. Tobacco kills six million people each year worldwide and is responsible for one in three cancer deaths.

By 2030 more than 80 per cent of tobacco-related mortality will be in low and middle income countries (LMICs). And tobacco will kill about one billion people in the 21st century if trends continue.

Cary Adams, UICC chief executive, said: “Millions of people are dying throughout the world each year due to something that is entirely preventable. The global cancer community must unite to reduce tobacco use. By joining forces we will accelerate progress in tobacco control and ultimately save lives that would otherwise be needlessly lost. Through the International Consortium for Action and Research on Tobacco we commit to mobilise our combined knowledge and resources in this fight.”

A large body of tobacco control research has been generated in high-income countries. But the key priority of the International Consortium for Action and Research on Tobacco is to help address the desperate need in LMICs for high-quality, locally-relevant research that informs policy and addresses the varying social, economic, cultural and political situations.

Professor Ian Olver, Cancer Council Australia chief executive, said: “Australia has led the way in innovative tobacco control policies. We are proud to be helping found the International Consortium for Action and Research on Tobacco, and to share our knowledge and experiences to further advance tobacco control worldwide.”


For media enquiries contact the Cancer Research UK press office on 020 3469 8300 or, out of hours, on 07050 264 059.

Notes to Editor

About the International Consortium for Action and Research on Tobacco
The International Consortium for Action and Research will work to increase investment in the evidence-base for tobacco control – through maximising the impact of its own investment, by joining with others who are already making such an investment; and by mobilising other cancer organisations to make new commitments to support international tobacco control research activities. Because the burden of tobacco use increasingly falls on LMICs, special emphasis will be placed on increasing research capacity and engaging cancer organisations and oncologists in these nations. 

The work of the International Consortium for Action and Research is intended to complement the exceptionally valuable work of current funders of tobacco control action and research: Bloomberg Philanthropies, Gates Foundation, International Development Research Centre, WHO Tobacco Free Initiative and others.

Founding members of the consortium are Cancer Research UK and the US National Cancer Institute, and joining their initiative today through their support for the “Melbourne Call to Action” are the UICC, Cancer Council Australia and Cancer Council Victoria, The McCabe Centre for Law and Cancer, Irish Cancer Society, the French Institut National du Cancer, Norwegian Cancer Society, The Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, the Latin American & Caribbean Society of Medical Oncology, the Singapore Cancer Society and the Centre for Global Health Research at the University of Toronto. 

About the World Cancer Congress 2014
Organised bi-annually by UICC and taking place in Melbourne between 3-6 December 2014; the WCC is the only event which convenes international cancer control experts and leaders in global health under one roof to identify solutions and agree actions to reduce the impact of cancer on communities around the world. This year’s event will gather 3,000 people from over 110 countries.

About UICC
UICC unites the cancer community to reduce the global cancer burden, to promote greater equity, and to integrate cancer control into the world health and development agenda. UICC is the largest cancer-fighting organisation of its kind, with over 800 member organisations across 155 countries representing the world’s major cancer societies, ministries of health, research institutes, treatment centres and patient groups.

UICC is dedicated to continuing to work with world leaders to increase their support for cancer control measures, and hold them to account for the cancer commitments made in the UN Political Declaration on NCDs. UICC uses key convening opportunities like the World Cancer Congress and World Cancer Day to lobby to: 

  • Develop targets and indicators to measure the implementation of policies and approaches to prevent and control cancer 
  • Raise the priority accorded to cancer in the global development agenda 
  • Promote a global response to cancer 

UICC and its multisectoral partners are committed to convincing governments to adopt specific time-bound targets that address the global burden of cancer and other NCDs. UICC is also a founding member of the NCD Alliance, a global civil society network that now represents almost 2,000 organisations in 170 countries. 

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