And Save 100 Million, Says Mayor

Study: New York’s Bloomberg fights on many fronts

Paris – Reducing the ranks of the world’s smokers by one-twentieth before 2020 could save 100 million lives, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a study published today in the British medical journal The Lancet.

Ïf the world reduces absolute adult smoking prevalence by five per cent by 2020, at least 100 million fewer tobacco-related premature deaths would occur in people alive today,” wrote Bloomberg and New York City health Commissioner Thomas Freiden.

Reaching this target – by boosting taxed, banning tobacco advertising, expanding smoke-free zones, and helping people quit – could also spare another 50 million people born over the next two decades, they wrote.

Bloomberg, an ex-smoker who used $125 million US of his own money to launch the Worldwide Stop Smoking Initiative last August, cited studies calculating that one billion people will go to their graves early due to tobacco before the end of the century.

“For the first time ever, the world’s leading agent of death is a man-made substance – tobacco,” he said.

As the mayor of New York, the billionaire businessman-turned-politician has waged an unrelenting war against the substance, hiking taxes and banning smoking in all public places, including bars and restaurants. A pack of cigarettes in New York now costs more than $7.00

The study points to several nations that have succeeded in reducing the percentage of the adult population that lights up to under 20 per cent, proof, Bloomberg suggest, that it can be done.

It is estimated that about 25 per cent of the world’s adults one billion people – are tobacco users.

Meanwhile, in Japan, smoking among men fell to the lowest rate in at least 20 years, indicating that a government anti-smoking campaign is succeeding.

The Proportion of males who have smoked at least 100 cigarettes or who had the habit for more than six months fell to 39.3 per cent in 2005, four percentage points less than the previous year, the Ministry of Health , Labor and Welfare said yesterday. That’s the lowest since 1986.

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