Brazil: No-Smoking Capital

Tobacco cessation policies in Brazil have reduced smoking by half country-wide

(RxWiki News) When it comes to tobacco cessation, Brazil is the poster child for success. Brazil provides a great model for cutting smoking in half in 20 years at no financial burden to the nation.

A recent study analyzed data from 20 years of Brazil’s anti-smoking efforts. The study’s findings showed how an aggressive, anti-smoking campaign yielded serious results.

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David Levy, PhD, from the department of oncology at Georgetown University in Washington, DC, worked with the Brazilian National Cancer Institute (INCA) to investigate the success of anti-smoking policies in Brazil.

Since 1989, Brazil has been implementing serious tobacco control policies. They began with their first cigarette tax in 1990, then added warning labels in 1996 and smoke-free air laws.

In 1989, 35 percent of Brazilians smoked, which dropped, by 46 percent, down to 19 percent by 2008.

SimSmoke is a simulated tobacco control policy model that uses existing data to make estimates on how various restrictions on smoking would affect the overall population.

SimSmoke was designed to help configure which tobacco control policies have been most effective in helping people quit and saving lives.

By incorporating existing data from Brazil’s policy, population and smoking data, the SimSmoke model has calculated by 2010 approximately 420,000 lives will have been spared from stricter tobacco control policies in Brazil.

The SimSmoke model estimated these changes in policy have reduced smoking percentages:

  • Cigarette taxes – 46 percent reduction
  • Smoke-free air laws – 14 percent reduction
  • Mass media campaigns – 6 percent reduction
  • Marketing restrictions – 14 percent reduction
  • Packaging health warning requirements – 8 percent reduction
  • Cessation treatment programs – 10 percent reduction

Based on these estimates approximately seven million Brazilian lives will have been saved from smoke-related deaths by 2050.

Authors concluded, “Brazil provides one of the outstanding public health success stories in reducing deaths due to smoking, and serves as a model for other low and middle income nations.”

“Brazil’s accomplishments demonstrate that, even for a middle income nation, reducing tobacco use is a “winnable battle” that carries huge dividends in terms of reducing mortality and morbidity.”

Brazil hopes to reduce smoking by another 39 percent by 2050. Authors noted that tobacco cessation policies in Brazil did not carry great governmental cost, but rather generated revenue through taxes.

This study was published in November in PLOS Medicine.

Funding support was provided by the U.S. National Cancer Institute. No conflicts of interest were reported.

Review Date: 
November 11, 2012