Tax hikes on packages of cigarettes, bans on lighting up in public places, age restrictions and those graphic anti-smoking ads might sometimes seem a bit excessive, but research published Wednesday in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute proves that these anti-smoking measures have made a tangible difference.
"Researchers estimated that without tobacco-control programs and policies, an additional 552,000 men and 243,000 women would have died of lung cancer from 1975 through 2000."
A study conducted by experts at Rice University, the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and the National Cancer Institute, proves that tobacco control programs — implemented after the U.S. Surgeon General's 1964 Report on Smoking and Health — have prevented more than 795,000 deaths by lung cancer between 1975 and 2000.
According to a press release, the research team "used a comparative modeling approach in which they constructed detailed cigarette smoking histories for people born from 1890 through 1970, and then related the histories to lung cancer mortality in mathematical models."
Pitting actual figures against two other scenarios (projected smoking behaviors if no programs had been initiated, as well as a model scenario of complete smoking cessation post-1965), the "researchers estimated that without tobacco-control programs and policies, an additional 552,000 men and 243,000 women would have died of lung cancer from 1975 through 2000."
Experts attribute more than 80 percent of lung cancers to smoking. Though the research proves that anti-smoking measures haven't been perfectly successful — lung cancer would have claimed an estimated 2.5 million fewer casualties if smoking had stopped in the U.S. completely after 1965 — it is encouraging to see that, at least sometimes, programs work.