This graphic appeared on the front page of the British paper, the Independent. I find it to be effective, although defiantly not efficient a la Tufte: the data-to-ink ratio is abysmal. Two data points on the entire page, with both data labels drawn in extra large font!
It can be improved if the 24 guys are given a different color so we can see the amount of improvement between 1971 and "NOW".
Some may complain that the use of percentages obscured population growth during this period. Perhaps there should be fewer men on the left than on the right. Unfortunately, that would in turn obscure the comparison of percentages.
A bit of research into the data (at Cancer Research UK) reveals that the average survival rate hides a very wide range of rates (by type of cancer, by gender, by gender and type, etc.). One might argue that the average is quite meaningless for most users.
An alternative construct is a time series chart showing the increase in survival rate over time. It would plot more data and depict a trend (or lack thereof). I'd have to agree with the editor that such a chart would look unattractive on the newstand.
Source: "Cancer: the good news", The Independent, May 16, 2007