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

FIFA Indictments Put Gold Cup Tournament Under Cloud

Experts say US indictments could lead to charges of other world soccer officials, and lead to major shakeup in sport's governance More

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

At a recent even in Seoul, border communities promoted benefits of increased cooperation and North Korean defectors shared stories of life since the war More

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: Iraq President Vows to Fight IS 'Until They Are Killed or We Die'

In wide-ranging interview with VOA Persian service reporter, Fuad Masum describes conflict as new type of fight that will take time to win 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.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs