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Tobacco Control Measures Can Save Millions of Lives: WHO

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Tobacco control measures such as high tobacco taxes, bans on advertising, and laws prohibiting smoking in public places could prevent tens of millions of premature deaths around the globe, according to a study by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Such measures taken by 41 countries between 2007 and 2010 convinced an estimated 15 million people not to smoke, the study found. The researchers calculated that as a result, a total of 7.4 million smoking-related deaths will be prevented by 2050, Reuters reports.

Pakistan, Italy, Turkey, Romania and Argentina were among the countries that instituted tobacco control measures during that time. “If the progress attained by these…countries were extended globally, tens of millions of smoking-related deaths could be averted,” study author Professor David Levy of Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, wrote in the WHO’s monthly bulletin.

The study concluded increasing taxes and banning smoking in restaurants, offices and other public places are the most effective tobacco control measures. Increasing tobacco taxes will prevent 3.5 million smoking-related deaths in the countries studied, while banning smoking in public places will prevent 2.5 million deaths.

“It’s a spectacular finding that by implementing these simple tobacco control policies, governments can save so many lives,” Dr. Levy said in a news release.

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