A reduction in salt intake reduces blood pressure, stroke and other cardiovascular events, including chronic kidney disease, by as much as 23% (i.e. 1.25 million deaths worldwide). It is effective in both genders, any age, ethnic group, and in high-, medium- and low-income countries. Population salt reduction programmes are both feasible and effective (preventive imperative). Salt reduction programmes are cost-saving in all settings (high-, middle- and low-income countries) (economic imperative). Public health policies are powerful, rapid, equitable and cost-saving (political imperative). The important shift in public health has not occurred without obstinate opposition from organizations concerned primarily with the profits deriving from population high salt intake and less with public health benefits. A key component of the denial strategy is misinformation (with ‘pseudo’ controversies). In general, poor science has been used to create uncertainty and to support inaction. This paper summarizes the evidence in favour of a global salt reduction strategy and analyses the peddling of well-worn myths behind the false controversies.