Tax rises on cigarettes save more lives than smoking bans, according to a global study which projects tobacco control averting seven million deaths by 2050.

Scientists looked at the effects of six anti-smoking policies introduced in 41 countries, excluding the UK, between 2007 and 2010. Projections of premature deaths likely to be prevented by 2050 produced a figure of 7.4 million.

Increasing taxes on cigarettes to 75% of their price in 14 regions had the biggest impact, which was greater than legal smoking bans.

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Tax rises prevented 3.5 million deaths while "smoke-free air laws" in 20 of the countries averted 2.5 million.

The findings, published in the Bulletin of the World Health Organisation, also forecast a total of 700,000 deaths averted by health warnings, 380,000 by cessation treatments, and 306,000 by restrictions on tobacco marketing.