Between 2007 and 2010, 41 countries and territories implemented tobacco control policies that will collectively result in 15 million fewer smokers and prevent nearly 7.5 million smoking-related deaths globally by 2050, according to a World Health Organization (WHO) study.

Cigarette, photo by Ferran Jorda on Flickr, Creative Commons licenseThese findings demonstrate the magnitude of the actions already taken by countries and underscore the potential for millions of additional lives to be saved with continued adoption of MPOWER policies. To assist countries with implementing Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) obligations, in 2008 the WHO introduced the MPOWER package of evidence-based tobacco control measures. The MPOWER package includes: Monitoring tobacco use and tobacco control policies; Protecting people from the dangers of tobacco smoke; Offering help to quit tobacco; Warning the public about the dangers of tobacco; Enforcing bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship; and Raising tobacco taxes. The goal of the MPOWER package is to reduce smoking-attributable deaths, which are projected to rise to 8.3 million annually by 2030.

The largest number of smoking-related deaths was averted as a result of increased cigarette taxes (3.5 million), smoke-free air laws (2.5 million), health warnings (700,000), cessation treatments (380,000), and bans on tobacco marketing (306,000).

“It is imperative that the public health community continue to advocate for MPOWER policies of the highest level,” the study concluded.

1. Levy DT, Ellis JA, Mays D, Huang A-T. Smoking-related deaths averted due to three years of policy progress. Bulletin of the World Health Organization 2013; 91:509-518. (open access)