Nicola Sturgeon appointed to global health task force


Nicola Sturgeon has been included on a new global task force set up to examine what governments can do to try to curb obesity, smoking and alcohol consumption.

The Scottish First Minister has been appointed to the Task Force on Fiscal Policy for Health after the Scottish Government won a legal battle to allow it to introduce a minimum unit price for alcohol.

The policy will come into force on May 1 2018 - some six years after after MSPs at Holyrood first voted for the legislation, which was delayed by a legal challenge.

World Health Organisation (WHO) global ambassador and former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg announced the new group along with Lawrence Summers, who served as an adviser to US President Barack Obama.

The task force brings together politicians and health leaders from across the globe to look at how fiscal policy can help prevent non-communicable diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes.

Together, such diseases kill 40 million people a year across the world, making up 70% of all deaths, with Mr Bloomberg stating: "Noncommunicable diseases are a growing global crisis, especially in low and middle income countries.

"There's substantial evidence that taxes and fiscal policies are essential to confronting this health threat.

"This task force will explore which policies can make the biggest difference and help them spread, saving millions of lives."

Mr Summers stated: "We have strong evidence from around the world that raising taxes on products like tobacco, sugar-sweetened beverages and alcohol is highly effective at reducing harmful consumption and saving lives.

"I'm grateful for the commitment of this impressive group of leaders, whose expertise and experience will help the task force bring attention to the enormous potential of fiscal policies for health."

Ms Sturgeon said: "The Scottish Government has worked tirelessly to develop and implement bold and innovative policies to address public health challenges, including the negative effects of tobacco, excess alcohol consumption and obesity.

"Our commitment to minimum unit pricing is just one example of the action we are taking to improve the health of our population and to make it easier for people to make healthier choices.

"We are also currently consulting on a new obesity strategy, which includes proposals to restrict promotions of unhealthy food and drink.

"Scotland's work in the sphere of public health is world-renowned and I look forward to contributing to this group."