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Recent World Health Organization (WHO) Study Shows Efficacy of Tobacco Control Laws

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world-notobacco-dayThis post was written by Belen Rios, Research Assistant, Global Health LL.M. ‘13, at the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law. Any questions or comments about this post can be directed to

A recent study published by the World Health Organization (WHO) has shown that the adoption of tobacco control laws around the world will prevent 7.4 million premature deaths by the year 2050. Between 2007 and 2010, 41 countries launched tobacco control regulation that might reduce the consequences of the tobacco epidemic globally. However, the study concludes that many countries still have to adopt measures regarding tobacco consumption in order to reduce the epidemic.

In that regard, only 11% of the world population is protected from second hand smoke and 8% lives in a country that has adopted the WHO’s standards on tobacco tax.  In this sense, smoke-free laws and tobacco taxes raised are the most cost-effective tobacco control measures and the adoption of those policies have reduced the number of worldwide adult smokers by 7 million and 5 million, respectively. For example, countries like England, Colombia, Pakistan and Thailand have passed smoke-free laws; and Italy and Romania reduced the number of smokers by raising tobacco taxes.  Other countries, like Turkey have adopted both measures achieving a major reduction on tobacco use.

In this context, Georgetown University Professor and author of the study, Dr. David Levy said in a press release: “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.”

For more information about tobacco control policies please visit our Global Tobacco Control website.

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