An estimated 7.4 million premature deaths will be prevented by 2050 as a result of the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), an evidence-based treaty put in place in 41 countries between 2007 and 2010, according to a study published in the Bulletin of the World Health Organization.

The study estimated that the number of smokers dropped by 14.8 million, with a total of 7.4 million smoking-attributable deaths (SADs) averted. The largest number of SADs 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).

In 2008, WHO identified the six most-effective tobacco control measures and began providing technical support to countries participating in the WHO FCTC. The six approaches, referred to as MPOWER, are:

• Monitoring tobacco use and prevention policies;
• Protecting people from tobacco smoke;
• Offering help to quit tobacco use;
• Warning people about the dangers of tobacco;
• Enforcing bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship; and
• Raising taxes on tobacco.

“In addition to some 7.4 million lives saved, the tobacco control policies we examined can lead to other health benefits such as fewer adverse birth outcomes related to maternal smoking, including low birth weight, and reduced health-care costs and less loss of productivity due to less smoking-related disease,” said lead author David Levy, PhD, professor of oncology at Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center in Washington. “It’s a spectacular finding that by implementing these simple tobacco control policies, governments can save so many lives.”