LONDON - Trebling tobacco tax globally would cut smoking by a third and prevent 200 million premature deaths this century from lung cancer and other diseases, researchers said on Wednesday.
In a review in the New England Journal of Medicine, scientists from the charity Cancer Research UK (CRUK) said hiking taxes by a large amount per cigarette would encourage people to quit smoking altogether rather than switch to cheaper brands, and help stop young people from taking up the habit.
As well as causing lung cancer, which is often fatal, smoking is the largest cause of premature death from chronic conditions like heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure.
Tobacco kills around 6 million people a year now, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), and that toll is expected to rise above 8 million a year by 2030 if nothing is done to curb smoking rates.
Richard Peto, an epidemiologist at CRUK who led the study, said aggressively increasing tobacco taxes would be especially effective in poorer and middle-income countries where the cheapest cigarettes are relatively affordable.