News24

Smoking deaths triple - tobacco report

2012-03-22 07:25

London - Tobacco-related deaths have nearly tripled in the past decade and big tobacco firms are undermining public efforts that could save millions, a report led by the health campaign group the World Lung Foundation (WLF) said.

In the report, marking the tenth anniversary of its first Tobacco Atlas, the WLF and the American Cancer Society said if current trends continue, a billion people will die from tobacco use and exposure this century - one person every six seconds.

Tobacco has killed 50 million people in the last 10 years, and tobacco is responsible for more than 15% of all male deaths and 7% of female deaths, the new Tobacco Atlas report found.

In China, tobacco is already the number one killer - causing 1.2 million deaths a year - and that number is expected to rise to 3.5 million a year by 2030, the report said.

That is part of a broader shift, with smoking rates in the developed world declining but numbers growing in poorer regions, said Michael Eriksen, one of the report's authors and director of the Institute of Public Health at Georgia State University.

Biggest killer

"If we don't act, the projections for the future are even more morbid. And the burden of death caused by tobacco is increasingly one of the developing world, particularly Asia, the Middle East and Africa," he said in an interview.

Almost 80% of people who die from tobacco-related illnesses now come from low- and middle-income countries. In Turkey, 38% of male deaths are from smoking-related illnesses, though smoking also remains the biggest killer of American women too.

WLF's chief executive Peter Baldini accused the tobacco industry of thriving on ignorance about the true effect of smoking and "misinformation to subvert health policies that could save millions".

The report said the industry had stepped up its fight against anti-tobacco policies, launching legal challenges and seeking to delay or stop the introduction of plain packaging, legislation banning smoking in public places, advertising bans and health warnings on packets.

The world's six biggest tobacco firms made $35.1bn in profits in 2010 - equal to the combined earnings of Coca-Cola, Microsoft and McDonald's, the report said.

Smoking causes lung cancer as well as several other chronic pulmonary diseases and is a major risk factor in heart disease, the world's number one killer.

'Upper hand'

More than 170 countries have signed up to a World Health Organisation-led convention committing them to cut smoking rates, limiting exposure to second-hand smoke, and curbing tobacco advertising and promotion.

WHO director general Margaret Chan said thanks in part to that convention, 1.1 billion people have in the past two years become covered by at least one measure designed to curb tobacco use. She added, however, that the battle was far from over and urged more countries to fight the industry.

"We must never allow the tobacco industry to get the upper hand," she said in a foreword to the report. "Tobacco is a killer. It should not be advertised, subsidised or glamorised."

Comments
  • IAnon - 2012-03-22 08:39

    And that, after all we know about Smoking - Why are Governments not putting a ban to it, Oh Wait, they together with the medical fraternity would be loosing out on Billions in Revenue. We are but an intelligent Species.

      Tony Lapson - 2012-03-22 10:21

      That true, but also modern cigarettes aren't properly regulated. My dad smoked for 40 years. He quit 10 years ago and is in his 80's. The one thing he always says to me is "don't smoke that crap, it isn't the same as it use to be." It's true, people just say "smoking kills" regardless of the complications. Cigarettes of today are all about cost efficiency. The big brands use fertilizers which contain mildly radioactive additives to stop insects and pests. The treatment of tobacco no longer lives up to the quality standards of the past. Addition of toxic pesticides, fumigants, and chemicals used to treat the tobacco is increasing the death rate of smokers.

      Vardion - 2012-03-22 10:42

      Banning things like cigarettes never helps in the long run. Look what happened with prohibition in the US. People are going to get their fix, one way or another and banning it just creates a dangerous and criminal black market. Look what's happening in Mexico and other countries thanks to the "war on drugs". I'm not advocating smoking or anything else, just pointing out realities.

      jody.beggs - 2012-03-22 13:52

      And don't forget about how additive it is!

  • ludlowdj - 2012-03-22 11:01

    Of course the report as well as the statistics are hogwash at best. Things like diesel exhaust etc also cause the same sorts of cancer, not to mention the fact that the so called bad chemicals in tobacco are for the most man made additives used to get the brand flavor etc and are not found in the raw tobacco plant. The truth is that to this day for every report that says smoking is bad there is another than finds that the link is not to tobacco itself but other additives or environmental variables. One needs to seriously question why the tobacco industry is targeted when alcohol and other socially accepted drugs are more addictive and have a greater negative effect on the user as well as those around the user.

      debeerjp - 2012-03-22 11:52

      Of course, no one goes around and sucks on a diesel exhaust and if they did they will probably die from the gasses. Tobacco is used by choice, but it does affect people around the user. It stinks, causes air pollution and cigarette butts are thrown everywhere. The medical costs related to smoking incurred by every country are enormous! If alcohol and socially accepted drugs are worse than tobacco (tobacco also being quite bad), simply ban all tobacco, alcohol and socially accepted drugs. Could solve quite a few problems!

  • jody.beggs - 2012-03-22 12:32

    And how many Dagga related death's are there ? And its illegal! Damn the man.

  • jason.dutoit - 2012-03-22 14:10

    the majority of smokers start smoking while they are still children... after that, it is REALLY hard to quit. enough said.

  • ludlowdj - 2012-03-23 12:28

    @BEBEERJP "Of course, no one goes around and sucks on a diesel exhaust and if they did they will probably die from the gasses." Of course you totally overlook that we use more than 200 000 Liters of diesel every day in South Africa alone, and as with smoking you don't need to suck on anything to be effected by the "second hand smoke" The fact is that country for country the cigarette smoke that makes up components of the air we breath is in reality a very small portion of the overall cancer causing pollutants being generated by industry and transport. I do not deny the general vulgarity of smoking, or the need to stop children from being enticed into an activity that is considered dirty and offensive. Most old smokers being more than willing to say that they would not advise smoking and wish they never started. I do however take offense at the obvious attempts of those in power to promote "facts" that are based on misrepresentation and deceit. Rather be truthful and acknowledge that as a non smoker you are inhaling the equivalent of a packet of cigarettes a day from non tobacco related pollution anyway, and that smoking on top of this will greatly heighten your chances of contracting cancer in later life

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