Objectives: We evaluated the effect of strict tobacco control policies, implemented beginning in 1995 in the Republic of Korea, on smoking prevalence and deaths.
Methods: SimSmoke is a simulation model of the effect of tobacco control policies over time on smoking initiation and cessation. It uses standard attribution methods to estimate lives saved as a result of new policies. After validating the model against smoking prevalence, we used it to determine the Korean policies' effect on smoking prevalence.
Results: The model predicted smoking prevalence accurately between 1995 and 2006. We estimated that 70% of the 24% relative reduction in smoking rates over that period was attributable to tobacco control policies, mainly tax increases and a strong media campaign, and that the policies will prolong 104 812 male lives by the year 2027.
Conclusions: Our results document Korea's success in reducing smoking prevalence and prolonging lives, which may serve as an example for other Asian nations. Further improvements may be possible with higher taxes and more comprehensive smoke-free laws, cessation policies, advertising restrictions, and health warnings.