In 2005, WHO set a global goal to reduce rates of death from chronic (non-communicable) disease by an additional 2% every year. To this end, we investigated how many deaths could potentially be averted over 10 years by implementation of selected population-based interventions, and calculated the financial costs of their implementation. We selected two interventions: to reduce salt intake in the population by 15% and to implement four key elements of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). We used methods from the WHO Comparative Risk Assessment project to estimate shifts in the distribution of risk factors associated with salt intake and tobacco use, and to model the effects on chronic disease mortality for 23 countries that account for 80% of chronic disease burden in the developing world. We showed that, over 10 years (2006-2015), 13.8 million deaths could be averted by implementation of these interventions, at a cost of less than US$0.40 per person per year in low-income and lower middle-income countries, and US$0.50-1.00 per person per year in upper middle-income countries (as of 2005). These two population-based intervention strategies could therefore substantially reduce mortality from chronic diseases, and make a major (and affordable) contribution towards achievement of the global goal to prevent and control chronic diseases.