News / Health

Study: Tobacco Tax Hike Could Save 200 Million Lives

Cigarettes displayed in a store in New York in this March 30, 2010 file photo.
Cigarettes displayed in a store in New York in this March 30, 2010 file photo.

Related Articles

Chinese State Council Urges Party Leaders to Change Smoking Habits

China is the world's largest tobacco consumer; Smoking is deeply entrenched in Chinese social life

US Panel: Some Current, Former Smokers Should Get Annual Lung Scans

Under the Affordable Care Act, insurers will be required to cover the screenings
VOA News
Tripling tobacco taxes could save up to 200 million lives, according to new research published January 1 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

"The international tobacco industry makes about $50 billion in profits each year – that’s a profit of approximately $10,000 per death from smoking," said Richard Peto an epidemiologist at Cancer Research UK and co-author of the study.

Raising the tax, the study said, would lower the price gap between the most and least expensive brands, which would lead to more people quitting smoking rather than just moving to a cheaper brand. Higher prices could also discourage young people from taking up smoking.

The effects of higher taxes would be felt especially in low-to-middle-income countries where the cheapest cigarettes are relatively affordable. It would also be effective in richer countries. For example, France halved cigarette consumption from 1990 to 2005 by raising taxes well above inflation, according to the study.

The research points to numerous studies which found that a 50 percent higher inflation-adjusted price for cigarettes reduces consumption by about 20 percent, with stronger reductions among the young and among the poor.

“Globally, about half of all young men and one in ten of all young women become smokers, and, particularly in developing countries, relatively few quit,” said Peto. “If they keep smoking, about half will be killed by it, but if they stop before 40, they’ll reduce their risk of dying from tobacco by 90 percent.”

Smoking is the largest cause of premature death from chronic disease, according to the study, and in 2013 the World Health Assembly called governments to reduce smoking by a third by 2025.

The study said that tripling tobacco taxes would decrease worldwide consumption by about a third, but despite this it would also increase government revenues from tobacco by a third, from $300 billion a year now to $400 billion a year – income which could be spent on better health care.

About 1.3 billion people smoke, most in low and middle-income countries, according to the study.

Furthermore, the study said two-thirds of all smokers are, in descending number of smokers, in China, India, the EU, Indonesia, the United States, Russia, Japan, Brazil, Bangladesh and Pakistan. China consumes over two trillion cigarettes a year, out of a world total of six trillion, the research states.

You May Like

Lion Cecil's Killing Sparks 'Canned Hunting' Debate in S. Africa

Conservationists believe incident, which triggered worldwide outrage, will reshape debate about practice in which hunters are allowed to target animals bred for hunting More

Taliban's New Leader Says Jihad Will Continue

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Environmentalists Issue Warning on Mekong Biodiversity

Scientists say decades of economic development, hydropower-dam construction, lax law enforcement and trafficking have taken their toll More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 3
    Next 
by: Trujillo from: AZ
January 07, 2014 4:41 PM
These researchers are a joke just the Feds are. If they were for real the FEDS would make it ILLEGAL to use all those chemicals added to make people more addicted, crave cigarettes. 20 years later and still NOT DONE to stop doping the tobacco.
Second is hit the ones adding the chemicals for the injuries CAUSED by their actions.
But that would happen because in the same group as too big to fail, too big to jail.

by: Art Vandelay from: US
January 03, 2014 3:31 AM
Of course many in "developing countries" will die from bullets or disease before they turn 40 too (China still has people who live in caves, the Taliban have dominated by profits from Heroin) but by all means, let's take away their cigarettes.... Hello trees, this is the forest, yeah we're burning...

by: amishjihad from: Switzerland
January 03, 2014 3:22 AM
To quote from the article above. “Globally, about half of all young men and one in ten of all young women become smokers, and, particularly in developing countries, relatively few quit,” said Peto. “If they keep smoking, about half will be killed by it, but if they stop before 40, they’ll reduce their risk of dying from tobacco by 90 percent.”
And to quote to again. "About 1.3 billion people smoke, most in low and middle-income countries, according to the study"..
Am I the only one that sees the whole picture? With the concern for overpopulation on this planet and the worlds population having the potential to live longer, this is the perfect solution. People taking their lives voluntarily at such a high rate is exactly what this planet needs to survive. AND. We all know what the majority of the funds that will be generated from all this tax will be used for? That's right more and bigger wars to kill more people. Quite the perfect combination to slow down population growth. Look at me the eternal optimist. Problem solved. God I love humanity and its infinite wisdom.

by: Mont
January 03, 2014 12:05 AM
Could, but won't. When I stopped smoking they were under $1/pack, now they are what, $5? How many people have stopped smoking because they are 5x more expensive? How many new people started smoking even during the price increases? It will just be wasted at your local health department on buying car seats for people who can't keep their legs closed.

by: wag from: US
January 02, 2014 10:25 PM
The statement that "the international tobacco industry makes...a profit of approximately $10,000 per death from smoking," is about as meaningless a statistic as one could formulate, in that the profit per death is inversely proportional to the number of people who die from smoking. If the number of deaths were cut in half, the profit per death would then be $20,000. So what's your point, Dr. Peto?

by: Anonymous
January 02, 2014 5:46 PM
Perhap the Companies should be forced to pay the medical expenses incurred by smoke related illnesses instead of charging more tax that the government would squander anyway would be a better start.

by: Adolf Siebenhaar from: United States
January 02, 2014 5:44 PM
The only thing guaranteed by an increase in taxes on tobacco is that the bureaucrats will have more money to waste on another string of needless legislation and government offices. For those of you who are militantly anti-smoking or smoker reformers, I pay additional taxes, health insurance premiums, and life insurance premiums for the privilege of smoking. I will continue to smoke tobacco, do as I please with my time and space as I see fit, and scoff at any attempt to force my compliance with ridiculous attempts to change me, whether by coercion, ridicule, or violence until I am no longer able to afford my behavior or until the bureaucrats succeed in completely stripping away all of my rights and freedoms.
In Response

by: Rick FromTexas
January 03, 2014 12:53 AM
I smoke too but I'd quit in a heartbeat if they invented a pill that prevented withdrawal.

by: Zensible from: Seattle WA
January 02, 2014 4:30 PM
Lets triple the price of snow skis to, so we can cut down on skiing accidents. Triple the price of cars to cut down on automobile accidents. Maybe if we stopped listening to studies that are three times dumber than the average....

by: Robert Heron from: California
January 02, 2014 3:55 PM
Once the world has stopped smoking, how will the lost tax revenue be recovered?

by: Art Stone from: USA
January 02, 2014 3:53 PM
How many additional deaths will occur from the newly obese when they stop smoking? Or suffer from food insecurity because they choose to continue smoking?
In Response

by: Treacy from: China
January 02, 2014 11:00 PM
your thinking is so funny,but reasonable
Comments page of 3
    Next 

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs