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Curbing the epidemic: governments and the economics of tobacco control
  1. The World Bank
  1. Frank J Chaloupka, Department of Economics, University of Illinois at Chicago, 601 South Morgan Street, Chicago, Illinois 60607-7121;fjc{at}

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Below we reprint the excecutive summary of an important new report published by the World Bank. This report has its origins in the converging efforts of several partners to address a shared problem: the relative neglect of economic contributions to the debate on tobacco control. In 1997, at the tenth world conference on tobacco in Beijing, China, the World Bank organised a consultation session on the economics of tobacco control. The meeting was part of an ongoing review of the Bank’s own control policies. There was clear recognition at this meeting that insufficient global attention was being paid to the economics of smoking-related deaths. The meeting’s participants also agreed that the discipline of economics was not being applied to tobacco control in many countries, and that even where economic approaches were being used, their methodology was of variable quality.

At the same time that the World Bank began reviewing its policies, economists at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, had begun a project on the economics of tobacco control for southern Africa. These initiatives were brought together, in partnership with economists at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland, and others, to form a wider review. The work culminated in a conference in Cape Town in February 1998. The proceedings of the conference have been published separately.1 The collaboration led to a broader analysis of the economics of tobacco control, involving economists and others from a wide range of countries and institutions.2 This report summarises the findings of those studies as they are relevant to policymakers.

Executive summary

Smoking already kills one in 10 adults worldwide. By 2030, perhaps a little sooner, the proportion will be one in six, or 10 million deaths per year—more than any other single cause. Whereas until recently this epidemic of chronic disease and premature death …

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