Tripling taxes on tobacco could help avoid 200 million tobacco deaths

Washington, Jan. 2: A new review has suggested that tripling taxes on cigarettes around the world could help cut the number of smokers by one-third and prevent 200 million premature deaths from lung cancer and other diseases this century.

Such a large tax increase would double the street price of cigarettes in some countries and narrow the price gap between the cheapest and most expensive cigarettes, which would encourage people to stop smoking rather than switch to a cheaper brand and help young people not to start.

Dr. Prabhat Jha, director of the Centre for Global Health Research of St. Michael’s Hospital and a professor in the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto, said that this would be especially effective in low- and middle-income countries, where the cheapest cigarettes are relatively affordable and where smoking rates continue to rise.

He said that it will also be effective in rich countries, noting that France halved cigarette consumption between 1990 and 2005 by raising taxes above inflation.

Tobacco causes about 200,000 deaths a year of people under 70 in Canada and the United States (120,000 men and 80,000 women). Doubling cigarette prices would prevent about 70,000 of those deaths and provide new revenue that governments could spend on health care.

The review has been published in the New England Journal of Medicine. (ANI)