Brazil's Strong Antismoking Policies Credited with Saving LivesUsing a policy simulation model called SimSmoke, researchers have estimated that strong tobacco control policies implemented in Brazil between 1989 and 2010 cut the smoking rate nearly in half and saved almost 420,000 lives during that period. Dr. David Levy of Georgetown University's Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center and his colleagues published their findings November 6 in PLOS Medicine.
Using SimSmoke, the researchers looked at the effects of various tobacco control policies on the smoking rate in Brazil, which declined from 34.8 percent in 1989 to 18.5 percent in 2008. SimSmoke models the effects of tobacco control policies on smoking initiation and cessation rates and uses the changes in these rates to estimate smoking rates over time.
The Brazil SimSmoke model showed that almost half of the 46 percent reduction between 1989 and 2010 was due to tobacco tax and price hikes. Smokefree air laws, restrictions on advertising, programs to help people quit smoking, media campaigns, and mandatory health warnings on tobacco packaging also contributed to the drop in smoking rates.
“This study indicates how powerful tobacco control policies are,” said Dr. Levy.
Brazil’s current tobacco control policies are projected to reduce the smoking rate from 16.8 percent in 2010 to 10.3 percent in 2050 and prevent an estimated 7 million premature deaths due to smoking. The model also showed that, if Brazil fully implemented policies recommended by the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, the country’s smoking rate would fall to 6.3 percent by 2050, preventing 1.3 million more deaths.
“Brazil’s accomplishments demonstrate that, even for a middle-income nation, reducing tobacco use is a ‘winnable battle’ that carries huge dividends in terms of reducing mortality and morbidity,” the researchers wrote.
“There is now a ‘global laboratory’ of tobacco control,” said Dr. Michele Bloch, acting chief of NCI’s Tobacco Control Research Branch. “Studies from around the world allow countries to benefit from each other’s experience.”
This study was funded in part by the National Institutes of Health (UO1-CA97450-02).