Background: Policymakers need estimates of the impact of tobacco control (TC) policies to set priorities and targets for reducing tobacco use. We systematically reviewed the independent effects of TC policies on smoking behavior.
Methods: We searched MEDLINE (through January 2012) and EMBASE and other databases through February 2009, looking for studies published after 1989 in any language that assessed the effects of each TC intervention on smoking prevalence, initiation, cessation, or price participation elasticity. Paired reviewers extracted data from studies that isolated the impact of a single TC intervention.
Findings: We included 84 studies. The strength of evidence quantifying the independent effect on smoking prevalence was high for increasing tobacco prices and moderate for smoking bans in public places and antitobacco mass media campaigns. Limited direct evidence was available to quantify the effects of health warning labels and bans on advertising and sponsorship. Studies were too heterogeneous to pool effect estimates.
Interpretations: We found evidence of an independent effect for several TC policies on smoking prevalence. However, we could not derive precise estimates of the effects across different settings because of variability in the characteristics of the intervention, level of policy enforcement, and underlying tobacco control environment.