A fifty percent hike in cigarette prices would lead to about 450 million years of life gained across thirteen middle-income countries, including India, from smoking cessation, a new study has claimed.
The study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) also said that "India in particular, will gain about 45 million life years from this increase."
For the study, researchers developed a simple compartmental model to assess health gains, financial protection, and tax gains for governments from a large increase in the market prices of cigarettes across income groups in these countries with a total of 500 million male smokers, the BMJ said in a statement.
Researchers from the Global Tobacco Economics Consortium led by Professor Prabhat Jha from St. Michael's Hospital under the University of Toronto, and Patricio Marquez, lead public health specialist from the World Bank, set out to predict the effect of a 50 percent increase in cigarette prices.
"Higher prices of cigarettes provide more health and financial gains to the poorest 20 percent than to the richest 20 percent of the population.
"Higher excise taxes support the targets of the sustainable development goals on non-communicable diseases and poverty, and provides financial protection against illness," according to the study.
Thirteen middle-income countries in Latin America and Asia, with a total of two billion men were selected for the study. For the compartment model, the countries were chosen based on the prevalence of smoking, population size, and availability of data.
"A 50 percent increase in cigarette prices would lead to about 450 million years of life gained across the 13 countries from smoking cessation, with half of these in China," the study said.
Using the World Bank income definitions, out of the 13, six countries are classified as lower middle-income (India, Indonesia, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Armenia) and seven as upper middle-income (China, Mexico, Turkey, Brazil, Colombia, Thailand, and Chile).
"Across all countries, men in the bottom income group (poorest 20 percent of the population) would gain 6.7 times more life years than men in the top income group (richest 20 percent of the population," according to the study.
The average life years gained from cessation for each smoker in the bottom income group was 5.1 times that of the top group, it said.
"We focused on male smokers, as they comprised about 90 percent of all smokers in these 13 countries," according to the study.
Researchers used a model to measure the impact of quitting by age and income group on life years gained, treatment costs averted, avoiding catastrophic medical costs and poverty, and additional tax revenue.
"The Indian subcontinent has a sizeable number of bidi (small, locally manufactured cigarettes) users as well as oral tobacco users. In this region, smoking patterns are changing, with cigarettes increasingly substituting bidis, particularly in those on low incomes and young people," according to the researchers.
The BMJ said that based on current patterns, smoking will be responsible for "about one billion deaths in the 21st century, most of which will be in low and middle-income countries, such as India".
"Effective tobacco control could avoid hundreds of millions of early deaths, and tobacco taxation is the single most effective measure to increase quit rates and deter young people from taking up smoking.