The Lives Saved By Tobacco Control

Kenneth Warner tallies them. He defines tobacco control as “all of the efforts of the private, voluntary, and public sectors to reduce the toll of smoking: trying to prevent kids from starting to smoke, helping smokers to quit, avoiding exposure to second-hand smoke, all of that combined”:

This January, some colleagues and I published a paper in JAMA that estimated the cumulative health effects of tobacco control. We found that between 1964 and 2012, eight million premature deaths were avoided as a result of tobacco control. We did not include second-hand smoke deaths, nor the years 2013 and 2014, so probably the best figure today would be about 10 million premature deaths avoided.

Tobacco control, broadly construed, accounts for fully 30 percent of the gain in adult life expectancy since 1964. Nothing—no medical intervention or any other public health development – has contributed anything close to that.