New anti-smoking policies in China could save nearly 13 million lives in next 40 years

Smoking harms nearly every organ in the body and causes many diseases. Credit: CDC/Debora Cartagena

Almost 13 million lives could be saved by 2050 in China if the country implements comprehensive tobacco control recommendations set forth by the World Health Organization (WHO).

That is the conclusion of a study led by Georgetown University Medical Center (GUMC) researchers published online today in the British Medical Journal.

China is the most populous nation in the world and is home to about a third of the world's smokers, with male of greater than 50 percent. China is also the world's largest tobacco product manufacturer through a government-owned tobacco company.

In 2003, China joined the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), which mandates a comprehensive set of including surveillance and monitoring of tobacco use prevalence, creation of smoke-free environments, treatment of , tobacco consumption taxation and other price controls, enforcement of heath warnings on tobacco packages and marketing bans.

"If the status quo is maintained, China faces a tremendous health burden in the next four decades that could result in more than 50 million deaths related to smoking," says David T. Levy, PhD, a population scientist at Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, a part of GUMC. "If the country completely implemented the WHO FCTC policies, almost 13 million deaths would be averted and smoking rates would be reduced by about 40 percent."

Levy and his colleagues utilized a computer simulation program called SimSmoke to model tobacco smoking prevalence, smoking-attributable death and the impact of policies between 2015 and 2050. The researchers analyzed data including China's adult population, current and former smoking prevalence, initiation and cessation rates and past levels.

Levy says that according to SimSmoke, raising taxes on tobacco products would have the greatest impact on reducing smoking rates.

"In 2009, China raised the tax on tobacco by almost 12 percent, but the increased cost was not passed along to consumers," Levy explains. "If China raised the taxes to 75 percent of the package price and increased the price commensurately, there would be a decrease in smoking of 10 percent within three years."

China has banned on public transportation. The country has implemented weak dependence treatment programs and some advertising bansthat are weakly enforced, according to Levy. These policies do not meet the FCTC requirements, he says.

"Some of the WHO FCTC policies will cost money to implement, but taxation policies and strong health warnings in particular would be cost effective," Levy says.

More information: www.bmj.com/cgi/doi/10.1136/bmj.g1134

Related Stories

China bans officials from smoking in public

date Dec 30, 2013

China, which has the world's largest number of smokers, appears to be making another effort at limiting smoking by banning officials from lighting up in public.

Recommended for you

Noise from fireworks threatens young ears

date Jul 03, 2015

(HealthDay)—The Fourth of July weekend is a time for celebrations and beautiful fireworks displays. But, parents do need to take steps to protect their children's ears from loud fireworks, a hearing expert ...

Many new teen drivers 'crash' in simulated driving task

date Jul 03, 2015

(HealthDay)—Around four in 10 newly licensed teen drivers "crashed" in a simulated driving test, suggesting that many adolescents lack the skills they need to stay safe on the road, according to a new study.

Insurer Aetna to buy Humana in $35B deal

date Jul 03, 2015

Aetna will spend about $35 billion to buy rival Humana and become the latest health insurer bulking up on government business as the industry adjusts to the federal health care overhaul.

Feeling impulsive or frustrated? Take a nap

date Jul 03, 2015

Taking a nap may be an effective strategy to counteract impulsive behavior and to boost tolerance for frustration, according to a University of Michigan study.

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.