The World No Tobacco Day takes place today, May 31st 2017. A new report from the Word Health Organization (WHO) published on this special occasion is being quite alarmist.
Tobacco kills more than 7 million people each year in the world following tobacco exposure. In the early 21st century, they were 4 million. Among those 7 million, more than 6 million are current or past tobacco users and almost 900 000 are non-smokers who are unintentionally exposed to tobacco smoke. What these figures tell us is that every 6 seconds, a person will die because of tobacco, namely one out of 10 adult deaths. According to the WHO, half of the current users will die from a tobacco-related illness.
For Margaret Chan, Director-General of the WHO, there is a feeling of urgency to tackle this treat: “by taking robust tobacco control measures, governments can safeguard their countries’ futures by protecting tobacco users and non-users from these deadly products ».
The WHO has evaluated in its report the sanitary, health and environmental impacts of tobacco:
USD 1400 million (€1250 million) through healthcare expenditure and lost productivity. This represents 1.8% of the world’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product).
Tobacco waste is the largest type of litter by count. It contains more than 7000 toxic chemicals that poison the environment.
Tobacco-growing will soon be a major cause of deforestation with one tree cut for every 300 cigarettes produced.
Tobacco smoke contains more than 4000 chemical substances, out of which 200 are harmful and more than 50 are carcinogenic. There is no threshold below which passive smoking is harmless. Nevertheless, more than half of the children could regularly be exposed to tobacco-polluted air.
The WHO actively calls for the ban of tobacco promotion – neutral packaging, ban on marketing and advertising, illustrated warnings – and for the rise of cigarette prices mainly through a tax increase. For Oleg Chestnov, Assistant Director-General of the WHO, tobacco price increases remain an essential tool to reduce tobacco use: “one of the least used, but most effective, tobacco control measures to help countries address development needs is through increasing tobacco tax and prices”.
World No Tobacco Day