- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 2, 2014

Tripling tobacco taxes would save 200 million smokers around the world from premature deaths over the course of the next century, researchers say.

That’s because the higher costs would make it nearly impossible for many to afford the habit and at the same time serve as a deterrent to youth from taking their first puffs, scientists said, AOL Money reported.

The scientists said they reviewed 63 different studies about the causes and effects of tobacco smoking around the world — and discovered a link between lower smoking statistics and higher priced product. Raising the price of cigarettes by 50 percent lowers the rate of smoking by about a fifth, the scientists found.

So now study authors suggest that prices of tobacco should be raised significantly, by boosting taxes of the product by three times the present amount.

“The two certainties in life are death and taxes,” said study co-author Professor Sir Richard Peto, from the nonprofit Cancer Research UK, in the AOL Money report. “We want higher tobacco taxes and fewer tobacco deaths. It would help children not to start, and it would help many adults to stop while there’s still time.”

They estimate the death rate could be cut by almost half if the tax rate increase is accepted.

“Globally, about half of all young men and one in 10 of all young women become smokers and, particularly in developing countries, relatively few quit,” Mr. Peto said, in AOL Money. “If they keep smoking, about half will be killed by it. But if they stop before 40, they’ll reduce their risk of dying form tobacco by 90 percent.”

The researchers say that in the European Union alone, 100,000 lives per year of those under the age of 70 could be saved by doubling the cost of cigarettes.