Tobacco Use Grows Fastest in Low-Income Countries

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Killing almost six million people every year, tobacco use is growing fastest in low-income countries, according to World Health Organization (WHO).

Reports say tobacco takes a “pervasive, heavy toll,” hindering development and worsening poverty.”

Stepping up efforts to control it which could kill up to one billion people this century, top United Nations official today called on governments to resist the increasingly aggressive steps taken by the tobacco industry to undermine efforts to reduce this global scourge.

tobacco
Couple lighting each others cigarettes, The Netherlands, 1932.

“The interests of the tobacco industry and of public health are directly opposed.” -Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

At the event on World No Tobacco Day, Mr. Ban said while governments and the international health community try to implement effective measures to contain tobacco use and protect the health of people, their efforts are being aggressively opposed by an industry whose products kill people

“Tobacco and poverty create a vicious circle since it is the poor who smoke most and bear the brunt of the economic and disease burden of tobacco use.” -Mr. Ban

He added that money spent on tobacco cannot be used to pay for food, education and health care.

“Tobacco control is essential to achieving our global development goals.” -Mr. Ban

Among the tools the world has to fight tobacco use and protect public health is the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. With 175 parties, it became one of the most rapidly embraced treaties in UN history after it entered into force in 2005.

Mr. Ban then urges all governments and civil society to prevent the tobacco industry from derailing the implementation of the Framework Convention.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that 80 percent of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes and over one-third of cancers can be prevented by eliminating the risk from tobacco use, the abuse of alcohol, unhealthy diet and physical inactivity. As public health leaders around the world have concluded, prevention – including tobacco prevention – must be the cornerstone of efforts to reduce non-communicable diseases.

UN asserts that reducing tobacco use must be a global priority and calls on nations to accelerate implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, the world’s only public health treaty. Measures called for by the treaty include tobacco tax increases, strong warning labels on tobacco products, smoke-free laws that protect against secondhand smoke and bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship. In particular, the draft declaration recognizes that “price and tax measures are an effective and important means of reducing tobacco consumption.”

Because the toll of tobacco is so high and the cost of addressing the tobacco epidemic is so low, nations have no excuse for not acting. Implementing these tobacco control measures is critical to winning the global fight against non-communicable diseases and to reducing the one billion deaths tobacco use will otherwise cause this century.

Mina Fabulous follows the news, especially what is going on in the US State Department. Mina turns State Department waffle into plain English. Mina Fabulous is the pen name of Carmen Avalino, the NewsBlaze production editor. When she isn’t preparing stories for NewsBlaze writers, she writes stories, but to separate her editing and writing identities, she uses the name given by her family and friends.