Smoking deaths triple over decade: tobacco report

LONDON Wed Mar 21, 2012 7:36am EDT

A woman uses her mobile phone while holding a cigarette in central London, February 1, 2010. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett

A woman uses her mobile phone while holding a cigarette in central London, February 1, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Suzanne Plunkett

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LONDON (Reuters) - 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 on Wednesday.

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 percent of all male deaths and 7 percent of female deaths, the new Tobacco Atlas report found. (www.tobaccoatlas.org)

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.

"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 percent of people who die from tobacco-related illnesses now come from low- and middle-income countries. In Turkey, 38 percent 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 $35.1 billion 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.

More than 170 countries have signed up to a World Health Organization-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, subsidized or glamorized."

(Reporting by Kate Kelland; Editing by Ben Harding)

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Comments (7)
jway87 wrote:
Cannabis does *not* cause the harms that tobacco does. Cannabis has repeatedly been proven to NOT cause cancer, heart disease, brain damage, liver disease, emphysema, or any other significant health issue, and its addiction potential is about on par with coffee.

While tobacco kills 400,000 Americans every year, there has yet to be a single verifiable case of cannabis killing anybody – and that’s after more than 5,000 years of human use. 850,000 Americans are arrested every year for possessing dried cannabis flowers and the net benefit to society for all the taxes this consumes and heartbreak this causes is ZERO. We need laws that create more good than harm – we need to LEGALIZE adult cannabis sales!!

Mar 21, 2012 5:12am EDT  --  Report as abuse
ALCOHOL55 wrote:
Didn’t the CDC and The WHO Just give a report that Alcohol Is worse then heroin and all drugs combined ? and that it kills 2.5 million people per year ? YES

Alcohol causes nearly 4 percent of deaths worldwide, more than AIDS, tuberculosis or violence, the World Health Organization warned.
Rising incomes have triggered more drinking in heavily populated countries in Africa and Asia, including India and South Africa, and binge drinking is a problem in many developed countries, the United Nations agency said.
Yet alcohol control policies are weak and remain a low priority for most governments despite drinking’s heavy toll on society from road accidents, violence, disease, child neglect and job absenteeism, it said.
Approximately 2.5 million people die each year from alcohol related causes, the WHO said in its “Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health.”

Mar 21, 2012 5:14am EDT  --  Report as abuse
thegovtmule wrote:
I smoked for a long time despite working in health care until I finally got my act together and quit. Smoking is a choice. If you are stupid enough to smoke then you deserve the effects you get.

Mar 21, 2012 12:20pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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