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Thursday 22nd August 2019

Efforts to curb smoking has saved millions of lives

18th February 2014

50 years after the US government made an influential report about the health dangers of smoking, the global rate of adults who smoke has declined; 8 million premature deaths have been prevented in the US alone.


The 1965 report by US surgeon General Luther Terry, concluded that the evidence was overwhelming: smoking kills. 

The report helped to push legislative action to deter smoking, such as warning labels to be placed on cigarette packs and a media campaign. Since then the movement has pushed for increasingly stricter regulations for tobacco that has steadily gained momentum. 

In 2003, the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control recommended that countries should take measures to regulate the tobacco industry by banning tobacco advertising, smoking in public places and steep taxes on products.

Other countries have combined these recommendations with their own ideas. These include: raising awareness with education, programmes to help smokers quit and lawsuits against cigarette makers. 

The percentage of adults who smoke in 197 countries have declined. Below are the global percentages of male and female smokers smokers in 1980 and 2012:


1980 - 41%

2012 - 31%


1980 - 10.6% 

2012 - 6.2% 

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