Monday, October 28, 2013

Smoking Ban Saves Life!

Among about 6 million deaths caused by smoking annually, more than 5 million are smokers while more than 600,000 are non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke. This is the statistics released by the World Health Organization (WHO). The annual number of death could rise to more than 8 million by 2030.

Smoking can cause not only cancer but also many other chronic diseases including heart disease, stroke and peripheral vascular disease. It will also raise the cost of health care and hinder economic development. Hence, many countries have implemented control to curb the number of smokers.

In July 2013, researchers from Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington and associates published a paper in the Bulletin of the World Health Organization reporting that the tobacco control measures implemented in 41 countries including Pakistan, Argentina and Italy between 2007 and 2010 will prevent some 7.4 million premature deaths by 2050.

These countries represented nearly one billion people or one-seventh of the world’s population in 2008. The total number of smokers in those countries was nearly 290 million in 2007.

Tobacco control measures, which include higher taxes on tobacco products, bans on adverts and controls on lighting up in public, were on track to persuade an estimated 15 million people not to smoke. Wider use of the controls could also lead to lower health care costs and higher birth weights for babies.

Increasing taxes and banning smoking in offices, restaurants and other public places were the most effective measures. The first method would prevent 3.5 million smoking related deaths, while the second would prevent 2.5 million.

A sharp drop in smoking rates was seen in Turkey as a result of control measures: from 47.9 percent in 2008 to 41.5 percent in 2012. The implemented measures include raising taxes on tobacco products to 75 percent of the final retail price, smoke-free air policies, warnings on cigarette packages, bans on advertising, promotion and sponsorship, and offering treatments to kick the habit.

Another study, conducted by a team of scientists based in the United States, Britain and India, revealed that banning smoking in the workplace and levying a tobacco tax could prevent more than 9 million deaths from cardiovascular disease in India over the next decade.

Smoking is blamed for the deaths of 1 in 5 men in India. The deaths from cardiovascular disease linked to tobacco use are projected to increase by 12 percent over the next 10 years. Their findings, which were published in ‘PLoS Medicine’, confirmed that smoke-free laws and increased tobacco taxes were the single 2 most effective measures. These 2 measures alone would reduce heart attack deaths by 6 million and stroke deaths by 3.7 million (a total of 9.7 million) over the next 10 years.

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