There's a good reason that the fight against smoking has spanned generations, cultures, and ideologies. The use of tobacco is the leading preventable cause of death in the world. An estimated five million people die each year from smoking
-related diseases. Meanwhile, economies lose billions of dollars a year in lost worker productivity from smokers: $278 billion in the U.S. alone
But in the United States it could be a lot worse if not for tobacco control measures. According to a new study
from The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), researchers estimate that tobacco control in the U.S. has lead to eight million fewer people dying from smoking between 1964 (when the U.S. surgeon general first issued a report on smoking
laying out its negative impacts on human health) and 2012. During that time there have been an estimated 17.7 million smoking-attributable deaths.
Around the world, the prevalence of daily tobacco smoking has also gone down (25 percent for men and 42 percent for women) from 1980-2012. But, with a growing population, the total number of smokers rose (41 percent for males and 7 percent for females) over the same time period, according to another study in latest issue of JAMA
. In large countries like Bangladesh, China, Indonesia and Russia, the number of smokers has been on the rise since 2006.
- Increasing tobacco taxes by 10 percent can reduce tobacco consumption by four percent in high-income countries and eight percent in low to middle-income countries. One study estimates that tripling cigarette taxes would prevent 200 million deaths this century.
- Banning tobacco advertising, promotions, and sponsorships can lead to a decrease in tobacco consumption by an average of about 7 percent, WHO says.
- Using graphic picture warning labels and advertisements -- only 30 countries meet "best practices" for picture warning labels.
- Covering the costs of counseling and medication and through national comprehensive cessation services -- only 21 countries offer this.
- Collecting data on tobacco use to implement the most effective policies.
- Protecting people from second-hand smoke with smoke-free laws.
For individuals who want to stop smoking, there's a billion-dollar industry ready to cash-in on people trying to quit
. That means pushing everything from hypnosis and acupuncture to smartphone apps
to nicotine sprays. But the most controversial products are e-cigarettes, which vaporize a mixture of nicotine and other chemicals to the user. Proponents say
they are a safer alternative to cigarettes and that they are a solution to wean people from nicotine. Others say their safety and effectiveness hasn't been sufficiently demonstrated
But as those arguments play out on local
, and international
stages, there is still more innovative thinking to be done as to how to best reduce smoking deaths. As researchers of the earlier study on U.S. smoking trends write in JAMA, "Tobacco control has been a great public health success story but requires continued efforts to eliminate tobacco-related morbidity and mortality."
This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com