Professor Tony Blakely
Yesterday we published a paper in PLoS Medicine that estimates the health gains, health inequality and health system cost impacts of ongoing annual 10% increases in tobacco tax. In this blog I outline the key findings of this paper, and why I think this paper is important. I also reflect on my 8 year journey from laying the foundations for this paper to its actual publication, the realisation of a vision of epidemiology informing policy.
Professor Cliona Ni Mhurchu, Associate Professor Nick Wilson, and Professor Tony Blakely
Health-related food taxes and subsidies are a hot topic internationally. Emerging research suggests they could improve diets and produce substantial health gains. However, the proposition of food pricing policies often meets with vigorous opposition and a range of counter-arguments relating to potential harms, lack of efficacy, and incursion on personal freedoms. In this blog, we briefly analyse 8 common arguments raised in opposition to such policies, and consider their basis drawing on the best available NZ and international evidence.
By the BODE3 Programme Team*
In this blog we describe an online calculator we developed to estimate the maximum investment society might consider spending on life-saving health interventions, while remaining cost-effective. For NZ, the amounts generated by this calculator vary greatly by age: NZ$ 1.2 million for an intervention to save the life of a child, NZ$ 0.7 million for a 50-year-old, and NZ$ 0.2 million for an 80-year-old, assuming we are willing to spend $45,000 per healthy life-years gained and the person is returned to the expected health status of the average NZ citizen. These results are very sensitive to the choice of discount rate and to the selected cost-effectiveness threshold. Policy-makers could use this calculator as a rapid screening tool to determine if more detailed cost-effectiveness analyses of potential life-saving interventions might be worthwhile.