Smoking ban, tax would save 9m lives in India

PUBLISHED : Friday, 12 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 12 July, 2013, 1:34am


A ban on 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, according to a US study.

In India, smoking is blamed for the deaths of one in five men, and one in three people report being exposed to smoking in the workplace.

Deaths from cardiovascular disease linked to tobacco use in India are projected to climb 12 per cent over the next decade.

As questions persist over how effective anti-smoking measures may be in low- and middleincome countries, a team of scientists based in the United States, Britain and India made a mathematical model to compare suggested measures to reduce future heart attack and stroke deaths from 2013 to 2022.

They found that smoke-free laws and increased tobacco taxes were the two most effective measures, according to the study published in PLoS Medicine.

They would reduce heart attack deaths by 6 million and stroke deaths by 3.7 million over the next decade, the paper said.

The study compared five tobacco control measures: smoke-free legislation, taxation, provision of brief cessation advice by health care providers, mass media campaigns and advertising bans. India, along with 175 other countries, ratified the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in 2004, which advises these measures.

Researchers at Stanford University said the findings, though subject to uncertainties because they assume the Indian population would react to recommended measures similarly to other populations, were an "important" model for other developing countries looking to stamp out preventable diseases.

Strokes and heart attacks are on the rise in low- and middle-income countries, due in part to tobacco. In India, consumption takes several forms: cigarettes, small, hand-rolled cigarettes called bidis, chewing tobacco and second-hand smoke.