Friday, May 18, 2012

How Many Lives Were Saved By Anti-Smoking Efforts?

In the United States, a total of 20.6 percent of the population currently smokes, including nearly 4 million youths.

Smoking can sabotage the health of not only the smokers themselves but also people around them by second-hand smoke. Diseases that can be caused by smoking include lung cancer, hypertension (high blood pressure) and stroke, heart disease and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).

Every year, 5.4 million people are killed worldwide because of smoking. It accounts for 1 in 10 adult deaths worldwide. It is believed that the number of people die of smoking-caused disease can be reduced, if smokers can kick the habit as early as possible.

A paper, appeared on March 24, 2012 in the ‘Journal of the National Cancer Institute’ on March 24, 2012, reported that anti-smoking measures like higher taxes on cigarettes, limits on selling to kids, and campaigns to educate people on the dangers of smoking could have saved more than 800,000 lives.

The study was conducted by researchers from the Yale School of Public Health and other universities and institutes that formed the Cancer Intervention and Surveillance Modeling Network (CISNET) consortium.  

Being funded by the National Cancer Institute, the study used various mathematical models, including one developed at Yale, to analyze trends in smoking and quantify the impact of various anti-smoking measures. Detailed cigarette smoking histories were recreated and significant events, like the Surgeon General’s report on the dangers of smoking, were factored in.

The surgeon General’s 1964 report was the first to warn of the harmful effects of cigarettes. If everyone had quitted smoking after that report, 2.5 million lung cancer deaths could have been spared, according to researchers.

Of course, since this did not actually happen, there were more than 2 million deaths among men from lung cancer and more than a million women from 1975 to 2000.

With the help of mathematical model by Yale, researchers managed to calculate smoking rate and found that the gradual reduction in smoking over the period between 1975 and 2000 resulted approximately 824,000 fewer lung cancer deaths, 603,000 of which were among men. Models used by other teams yielded similar results, showing anti-smoking measures prevented about 33 percent of potentially avoidable lung cancer deaths.

The findings showed the effect of the anti-smoking measures. It is hoped that increased efforts should be exerted in further lowering the cost in life from smoking.

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