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Could Cigarettes Be Obsolete By 2050?

Cigarette smoking may be completely disappeared by 2050, experts believe.

A combination of rising prices and the ban on lighting up in public places could finally kill off the habit, reports express.

According to a 72-page report by Citigroup analysts, it is quite possible that there will be no smokers left in many developed countries in about 30-50 years.

Many smokers are being put off by the spiralling cost of cigarettes.

After the VAT rise more than three-quarters of that price is now made up of tax.

The report, titled Tobacco : What if the last smoker quits in 2050, said: "It's hard to ignore 50 years of data. Smoking rates appear to be falling in a series of straight lines."

"No one can be certain how smoking rates will play out in the distant future. Possibly it may be (eventually) banned," said the report. If this continues then eventually price rises won't be able to drive profit growth.

Last night health experts welcomed the prediction but warned that a more gradual cut in smoking was likely.

Amanda Sandford, of Action on Smoking and Health, said a reduction of smokers to 10 percent of the population was "achievable" in the next decade.

"There are many factors in getting people to quit smoking including the ban in pubs and restaurants which has resulted in high levels of compliance," she said.

"The ban led to a spike in people trying to quit and numbers are about one percent down than in 2007. I think there will be a more gradual reduction in people smoking," she added.

No-one can be certain how smoking rates will play out in the distant future. [There are] three broad possibilities: Scenario A just extends the existing trend line until it hits zero. In Scenario B gradually fewer people quit, as we approach some sort of hard core of smokers, but in Scenario C smoking gets to a tipping point, as it becomes increasingly unacceptable and hence easier to regulate against. Possibly it may be (eventually) banned.

We are certainly not saying that we know which is right; plainly we don't. We think that each scenario is quite plausible.

It is interesting to note that Finland passed an anti-tobacco law in September that declared its aim "is "to end the use of tobacco" in Finland. As far as we know this is the first example of a country putting such an aim in law. No target date was given, but the ASH Finland says 2040 should be the target. For us, 2060-80 seems a more realistic target to us, judging by the trends in the last 20 years in Finland.


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