The Knowledge to Act


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Burning Problems, Inspiring Solutions: Sharing lessons on action against tobacco and fossil fuels

Key Messages

The report looks at different measures that have been used to address tobacco use, fossil fuel combustion and climate change, and concludes with a series of recommendations to support action against air pollution and climate change, including:

  • Naming and addressing fossil fuels as the root cause of the problem, as was done with tobacco. This also involves raising awareness of the negative health effects (beyond the environmental ones), both locally and globally, of the burning of fossil fuels.
  • Implementing government measures to regulate and curb the production and use of fossil fuels through the many instruments available, such as getting market prices right through subsidy reform, taxation measures and the introduction of measures banning the specific production and consumption of certain products.
  • Defining adequate, fair and just transition plans away from unhealthy commodities, recognizing the needs of those groups dependent on oil, gas and coal, whether they be consumers or employees.

Fossil fuel combustion is a major source of toxic air pollution that kills 7 million people every year, almost the same number of deaths caused by tobacco smoking. Burning fossil fuels releases a series of gases and tiny particles that have noxious effects for human health, leading to several respiratory and cardiovascular diseases and cancer.

This report searches to drive action on air pollution and climate change through the regulation of fossil fuels, considering the experience with tobacco control.

The report has been prepared for health care and environmental audiences, including policy-makers, NGOs and academics. It discusses local, national and international measures that can be employed to restrict the production and use of tobacco, on the one hand, and fossil fuels, on the other. Its objective is to facilitate a common language and vision by sharing similarities between tobacco control, air quality improvement and climate change mitigation. 

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