Raising the cost of cigarettes to £20 a pack could save more than 60 million lives worldwide, new research suggests.
Increasing cigarette pack prices by 50 percent would cause around 67 million men from the world’s poorest countries to quit smoking, a Canadian study found.
Low-income earners would have a 7.7 times greater quit rate than those with the highest salaries, the research adds, which debunks the myth smoking taxes largely affect poor people.
Globally, around 449 million years of life would be gained, while approximately $157 billion (£110 billion) would be saved not treating smoking-related diseases, such as heart disease, stroke and cancer, the study found.
According to the researchers, smoking is due to be responsible for one billion deaths in the 21st century, with low-income countries being particularly affected.
Previous research suggests raising taxes on tobacco in the most effective way to encourage people to quit smoking and stop people taking up the habit. In the UK, a pack of 20 cigarettes costing £8 will be more than 80 percent tax.
This comes after a sugar tax was introduced in the UK earlier this month, with manufacturers being forced to raise the prices of some of their best-selling soft drinks.
Study author Dr Prabhat Jha, from St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, said: ‘Our study debunks the current narrative that higher cigarette prices would negatively impact the poorest among us.
‘This analysis shows the opposite – a higher price would encourage cessation, lead to better health, and save money much more strongly for the poor than the rich.’
Co-author Patricio Marquez, who coordinates the Global Tobacco Control Program at the World Bank Group, added: ‘The findings of our new analysis will have a far-reaching impact.
‘Not only does increasing tobacco taxation reduce smoking and its health consequences, but the study’s findings are also relevant to the United Nations sustainable development goals to reduce poverty and improve health.’
How the research was carried out
The researchers analysed 490 million male smokers from 13 countries in Latin America and Asia.
Six of these were low-income regions, such as India and Vietnam, while the remainder were upper-middle income countries, like China and Brazil.
Only males were analysed due to them making up around 90 percent of smokers in these countries.
The researchers used mathematical models to calculate the effect of a 50 percent rise in tobacco prices. This was based on previous studies assessing smoking quit rates in response to changes in tobacco prices.
Past research was also used to determine how altering cigarette costs would likely influence people’s health.
The findings were published in the journal BMJ.
This comes after research released earlier this month suggested the chemicals used to flavour e-cigarettes may be toxic.
Substances that give the tobacco substitute a citrus or floral scent significantly increase the production of free radicals, a study by Pennsylvania State found.
Free radicals are molecules that damage healthy cells and have been linked to inflammation, heart disease and cancer.
Although 43 percent of e-cigarettes on the market contain chemicals that boost free-radical production, for unclear reasons, vanilla flavourings actually reduce their levels by 42 percent, the research adds.
Yet, a study released just last month suggested vanilla-scented e-cigarettes are just as toxic as other flavours.
The previous research also implied many e-liquids contain dangerous chemicals, including vegetable glycerin and propylene glycol, to get their flavours, both of which damage human cells.
Source: Daily Mail
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