Strategies to Stop Smoking Across Globe

Since the U.S. surgeon general released a report on the health consequences of smoking in 1964, rates of tobacco use have gone down from about 42% to 19%, a decrease in smokers that has saved about 8 million lives. The decrease is not enough, though, as smoking is still the leading cause of preventable death, and while smoking has significantly decreased in the U.S., it is still a major worldwide health issue. What can be done to stamp out smoking for good?

Tobacco Around the World

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), smoking has decreased around the world, but not enough. Almost 6 million people die worldwide from using tobacco. Most of those deaths are directly caused by use of tobacco, while up to 600,000 deaths are attributed to secondhand smoke exposure. Where is tobacco the biggest problem? Eighty percent of the 1 billion smokers in the world live in low- and middle-income countries.

Restrict Tobacco Advertising

As smoking in the U.S. and other wealthier countries has decreased, tobacco companies have begun to target poorer countries with advertising, promotions, sponsorships and marketing. The WHO is working to ban such practices and believes that doing so could greatly reduce smoking in countries around the world.

According to the WHO, banning ads and other aspects of marketing campaigns does decrease the consumption of tobacco by 7% to 16%. Only 10 countries in the world have banned tobacco ads, and one in three have absolutely no restrictions on them.

Use Pictures as Warnings

Sometimes the most graphic pictures of what smoking does to the body will motivate people to either quit or never start smoking. Anti-tobacco ads that use pictures are effective in reducing the number of children and teens who start smoking. They are also effective in making smokers aware of the impact they have on the nonsmokers around them. These pictures are typically used on cigarette packets and cartons, but they can also be used in mass media campaigns.

Tax Tobacco Products

The WHO says that taxing tobacco products is the most cost-effective way to keep people from smoking. This is especially true among young people and those with low incomes. For every 10% increase in tobacco taxation, there is a 4% decrease in smoking. The WHO also states that not enough countries take advantage of this strategy. Taxes create revenue and reduce smoking rates, and more countries should be implementing taxes or tax increases.

What Works in the U.S.

The WHO is at the forefront of leading tobacco use reduction around the world. According to the surgeon general, the strategies used in the U.S. to reduce smoking have been successful and will continue to reduce rates of tobacco use. These strategies include mass media campaigns that include graphic imagery, smoke-free policies in public places and giving people easy access to smoking cessation treatment. It’s easy for non-smokers to forget that nicotine is highly addictive. In order for other measures to work at reducing smoking, those who want to quit need access to treatment.

Smoking and other uses of tobacco have cost countless lives. They are addictive and dangerous products, and while use of them has gone down drastically in the U.S., people here and around the world are still dying from tobacco. Strategies that have been proven to work could help eradicate global tobacco use. They just need to be implemented everywhere.

Posted on October 30th, 2015
Posted in Addiction

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