WHO calls for global fight against tobacco

Tobacco use is falling, but not fast enough, with active or passive smoking killing over 7 million people every year
GENEVA: The World Health Organization (WHO) called for global action against the tobacco industry Thursday as it marked World No Tobacco Day.
The UN agency said this included implementing measures like taxation, marketing bans and plain packaging.
According to a new WHO report, tobacco use has declined since 2000, but “the reduction is insufficient to meet globally agreed targets aimed at protecting people from death and suffering from cardiovascular and other non-communicable diseases (NCDs)”.
Over half of all WHO member states have reduced demand for tobacco and almost one in eight countries are likely to meet the target of a 30 percent reduction in tobacco use by 2025, the report said, but much more needs to be done.
“We know what policies and actions can increase tobacco quit rates, prevent people from starting using tobacco and reduce demand,” said Dr. Svetlana Axelrod, the WHO’s Assistant Director-General for Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health.
“We must overcome obstacles to implementing measures like taxation, marketing bans and implementing plain packaging. Our best chance of success is through global unity and strong multisectoral action against the tobacco industry,” Axelrod said.
– Developing countries
Over 80 percent of tobacco smokers live in low- and middle-income countries and the number of smokers is on the rise in low-income countries, the report said.
The report highlighted the link between tobacco and cardiovascular diseases – the world’s leading causes of death – which are responsible for 44 percent of all NCD deaths, or 17.9 million deaths annually.
“Tobacco use and second-hand smoke exposure are major causes of cardiovascular diseases, including heart attacks and stroke, contributing to approximately 3 million deaths per year. But evidence reveals a serious lack of knowledge of the multiple health risks associated with tobacco,” the report said.
– “World’s leading killers”
“Most people know that using tobacco causes cancer and lung disease, but many people are not aware that tobacco also causes heart disease and stroke – the world’s leading killers,” WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement Thursday.
According to the report, tobacco kills over 7 million people each year, despite a steady reduction in tobacco use globally from 27 percent in 2000 to 20 percent in 2016.
Noting that due to population growth, the number of smokers in the world has not changed this century, the report said “there are 1.1 billion adult smokers in the world today and at least 367 million smokeless tobacco users”.
“For males aged 15 and over, 43 percent smoked tobacco in 2000 compared with 34 percent in 2015. For females, 11 percent smoked in 2000 compared to 6 percent in 2015,” it said.
“Worldwide, about 7 percent, or just over 24 million children aged 13–15, smoke cigarettes,” it said, or around 17 million boys and 7 million girls.–AA

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