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World Health Organization: Smoking could kill one billion by 2100

By Chris V. Thangham     Feb 8, 2008 in Health
During the 20th century, smoking tobacco killed more than 100 million people. But in the 21st century, health experts estimate smoking will kill one billion people unless governments takes steps to curb the habit.
The World Health Organization (WHO) released this report Thursday warning governments to take more steps and educate the public about smoking. Without it, more than one billion people will die in the 21st century.
The report said governments collect taxes worth more than $200 billion but spend only one fifth of one per cent on tobacco control.
The government that collects taxes from tobacco sales should use those revenues for smoke control measures, education and treatment says the WHO. If not, collecting taxes will have no influence in curbing the tobacco users.
WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan said in an introduction to the report: “We hold in our hands the solution to the global tobacco epidemic that threatens the lives of one billion men, women and children during this century."
WHO urges governments all over the world to adopt six “tobacco control policies”:
1. Raise taxes and prices of tobacco;
2. Ban tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship;
3. Protect people from second hand smoke;
4. Warn people about the dangers of tobacco;
5. Help those who want to quit smoking; and
6. Monitor tobacco use to understand and reverse the epidemic.
Chan said smoking already kills 5.4 million people a year; people die of lung cancer, heart disease and other illnesses. Chan said if corrective measures are not taken, this total will increase to eight million a year by 2030 and will exceed a billion in a century.
Chan was launching the report with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, whose foundation (Bloomberg Philanthropies) helped fund it.
The WHO report said nearly two thirds of the world’s smokers live in the following 10 countries: China (which accounts for nearly 30 per cent), India (about 10 per cent), Indonesia, Russia, the United States, Japan, Brazil, Bangladesh, Germany and Turkey.
Most smokers will be in low- and middle-income countries by 2030 where there is less education, inadequate health care services and no public smoking control measures.
Another reason for higher levels of tobacco users in low-income countries is because the tobacco industry markets heavily to them.
Also, there is a marked increase in tobacco use by younger women and the report says it is “one of the most ominous potential developments of the epidemic’s growth.”
The WHO said other types of smoked tobacco are also “lethal” including small hand-rolled cigarettes called bidis which are smoked in India and other Southeast Asian nations; clove and tobacco cigarettes called Kreteks smoked in Indonesia; and tobacco cured with flavorings known as shisha smoked from water pipes.
The WHO said the tobacco industry spends a lot of money on advertising (tens of billions of dollars a year), promotion and sponsorship. The WHO wants governments to curb such promotion and sponsorship from tobacco companies, but only 20 of 179 countries have such bans.
The report added: “Weak health warnings on tobacco packs — or no warnings at all — continue to be the global norm." Only 15 of 176 countries surveyed required picture warnings which have shown to be effective in getting people to quit smoking.
When we add the second-hand smoking deaths, the number of children or pets exposed to smoking and the financial burden it places on a country's health care system, it's staggering.
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