Protection against non-smokers has first effects

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Millions of people live longer thanks to prevention campaigns

Smoking is one of the greatest avoidable health risks of today. In the federal state of Hesse alone, over 100,000 people die each year from the effects of blue smoke. The government there was the first federal state to promote active non-smoking protection by legally prohibiting smoking in schools and schoolyards.

With rising prices for cigarettes and shock photos on the boxes, the government has been trying to stop young people from smoking and to persuade smokers to quit. Towards the end of 2013, the German Cancer Aid launched a nationwide poster campaign with the motto "Don't make cancer".

Prevention campaigns have an impact Studies show that the measures have an effect and save lives. According to the German Cancer Research Center, the number of smokers in Germany has been declining continuously for ten years. "We see a steady decline in the total population, but especially among children and adolescents," says Martina Pötschke-Langer from the DKFZ. In 2002 there were a total of 145 billion cigarettes smoked in Germany, compared to only 82 billion in 2012. "These laws and the debates about them have led to an extreme decline in social acceptance of smoking," said Pötschke-Langer.

Almost every organ in the body is damaged by smoking. The respiratory tract and the cardiovascular system are particularly badly affected. Many smokers die of lung cancer every year, which is the result of smoking. But passive smoking is also dangerous. In 2010, WHO researchers reported in the Lancet magazine that around 600,000 people die each year from the consequences of smoking.

Decline in the smoking US population In the journal “Jama”, US scientists have pointed out that the proportion of the smoking population worldwide has decreased significantly. This has resulted in several studies dealing with the problems of smoking. The researchers had collected data on the smoking behavior of citizens between 1980 and 2012 for 187 countries. Thanks to education and smoke-free programs, around eight million people in the United States have been saved from death in the past 50 years, the researchers said. As early as the mid-1960s, after the first report on the effects of smoking on health, the US government had responded with numerous measures and laws to protect non-smokers.

In the current study, the scientists led by Theodore Holford from the Yale School of Public Health in New Haven, Connecticut, investigated the extent to which the measures affect smoking-related deaths. First of all, the number of smokers in the population and daily cigarette consumption were recorded. Taking into account the epidemiological data and the available scientific knowledge on the influence of smoking on health, the researchers had determined the number of expected deaths from tobacco consumption. The results obtained were then compared to the actual number of deaths since the control measures were introduced after 1964. For the scientists, this resulted in the positive influence of the anti-smoking campaigns.

17.7 million people died in the United States between 1964 and 2012 because they smoked. Without state influence, there would have been several million more, but this success was still not sufficient. “The anti-smoking measures are estimated to be linked to the avoidance of eight million premature deaths and an estimated extended lifespan of 19 to 20 years. Although tobacco control is a major public health success, further efforts must be made to reduce the effect of smoking on the death toll, ”scientists write in the Jamaican journal.

Further measures are planned
For example, scientists from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington, USA, had determined that the number of smokers worldwide has been considered and that the number of cigarettes smoked every day has even increased since 1980, the researchers report . In Germany, further central measures such as a comprehensive ban on advertising and the printing of so-called shock pictures on the cigarette packets are to follow in the future. German experts are convinced that these measures will lead to a further decline. (fr)

Image: Sandra Nabbefeld /

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