Tobacco Use Kills Over 7 Million People Each Year: WHO Report

Tobacco Use Kills Over 7 Million People Each Year: WHO Report
Tobacco Use Kills Over 7 Million People Each Year: WHO Report

The latest WHO report on the global tobacco epidemic finds that more countries have implemented tobacco control policies, ranging from graphic pack warnings and advertising bans to no smoking areas.

About 4.7 billion people – 63% of the world’s population – are covered by at least one comprehensive tobacco control measure, which has quadrupled since 2007 when only 1 billion people and 15% of the world’s population were covered. Strategies to implement such policies have saved millions of people from early death, the report reveals.

However, according to the new WHO report on the global tobacco epidemic, 2017, the tobacco industry continues to hamper government efforts to fully implement life- and cost-saving interventions.

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“Governments around the world must waste no time in incorporating all the provisions of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control into their national tobacco control programmes and policies,” says Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.

“They must also clamp down on the illicit tobacco trade, which is exacerbating the global tobacco epidemic and its related health and socioeconomic consequences.”

Today, 4.7 billion people are protected by at least one “best practice” tobacco control measure from the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), 3.6 billion more people than in 2007, according to the report. This progress has been possible because governments have intensified action to implement key measures of the WHO FCTC.

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Strategies to support implementation of tobacco demand reduction measures in the WHO FCTC, like the “MPOWER” measures, have saved millions of people from early death, as well as hundreds of billions of dollars in the past decade.

MPOWER was established in 2008 to promote government action on six tobacco control strategies in-line with the WHO FCTC to:

  • Monitor tobacco use and prevention policies.
  • Protect people from tobacco smoke.
  • Offer help to quit tobacco use.
  • Warn people about the dangers of tobacco.
  • Enforce bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.
  • Raise taxes on tobacco.

The new report, funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, focuses on monitoring tobacco use and prevention policies.

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Tobacco use is the leading single preventable cause of death worldwide, killing over 7 million people each year. Its economic costs are also enormous, totaling more than US$ 1.4 trillion in health care costs and lost productivity.

The WHO Report on the global tobacco epidemic was launched Wednesday (19 July 2017) on the side-lines of the UN High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development in New York.

Controlling tobacco use is a key part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Agenda includes targets to strengthen national implementation of the WHO FCTC and a one third reduction in premature deaths from NCDs, including heart and lung diseases, cancer and diabetes.

Tobacco use is a leading common risk factor for NCDs, which kill 40 million people each year, equivalent to 70% of all deaths globally, including 15 million people aged between 30 and 69 years. Over 80% of these “premature” deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries.

Photo courtesy: World Bank

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