A new study estimates that 8 million lives have been saved in the US because of anti-smoking measures that started 50 years ago with the groundbreaking report from Surgeon General Luther Terry outlining the consequences of tobacco use.
First author Theodore R. Holford, professor of biostatistics and member of Yale Cancer Center, and six other researchers who are part of the National Cancer Institute’s Cancer Intervention and Surveillance Modeling Network, found that while some 17.6 million Americans have died since 1964 due to smoking-related causes, 8 million lives have been saved as a result of increasingly stringent tobacco-control measures that commenced with the report’s Jan. 11, 1964, release.
Of the lives saved, approximately 5.3 million were men and 2.7 million were women. The total number of saved lives translates into an estimated 157 million years of life, a mean of 19.6 years for each beneficiary, report the researchers.
Using data collected by the National Center for Health Statistics from 1965 to 2009, the team recreated smoking life history summaries for groups born each year starting in 1890.
These were used along with national mortality statistics and studies that followed large populations to calculate mortality rates by smoking status. This allowed them to estimate the impact of alternative scenarios for what might have occurred had the era of tobacco control never happened.
The analysis has been published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.