New Study Estimates 7.4 Million Smoking-Related Deaths Prevented By 2050

An estimated 7.4 million smoking-associated deaths will have been averted by 2050 thanks to smoking policies all over the world, according to a study published in the July issue of the World Health Organization’s Bulletin.

The study was created to determine the effectiveness of WHO’s anti-smoking measures (which they called MPower) implemented in 41 countries and territories between 2007 and 2010.

The MPower measures are: Monitor tobacco use and prevention policies, protect people from tobacco smoke, offer help to quit tobacco use, warn about the dangers of tobacco, enforce bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, and raise taxes on tobacco.

Back in 2006, the WHO had estimated that by 2030 some 8.3 million will have died from smoking causes. The purpose of this study was to investigate how that number may change with the implementation of MPower.

“These findings demonstrate the magnitude of the actions already taken by countries and underscore the potential for millions of additional lives to be saved with continued adoption of MPower policies,” reads the Bulletin.

The study found that around 3.5 million of the smoking-attributable deaths will be prevented because of increased cigarette taxes, 2.5 million due to smoke-free air laws, and the remaining 1.4 million from health warnings, quitting treatments and bans on tobacco marketing.

In all, the number of smokers is estimated to drop by 14.8 million by 2050.

"In addition to some 7.4 million lives saved, the tobacco control policies we examined can lead to other health benefits, such as fewer adverse birth outcomes related to maternal smoking, including low birth weight, and reduced health-care costs and less loss of productivity due to less smoking-related disease," said David Levy, a Georgetown University Medical Center professor and the study’s lead author, in a press release.

According to WHO statistics, about half of all tobacco users die because of their tobacco practices, and around 80 percent of users are from low- and middle-income countries.

A total of 176 countries participate in the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, but only 41 who have adopted the “highest-level MPower tobacco control policies” were used for the study. At least seven of those were Latin American countries, including Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Peru, Mexico and Argentina.

The study was funded by the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, and the Cancer Intervention and Surveillance and Modeling Network.

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