By the 21st century tobacco will Kill a billion people. What a statement. That’s tobacco Armageddon. The possibility that tobacco could kill a billion people might sound good to the illuminati but to tax paying Americans it means higher heath care cost and oh if you happen to have a measure of humanity in you it means a billion dead human beings. Like I mentioned “Tobacco Armageddon.
About half the men in numerous developing nations use tobacco, and women in those regions are taking up smoking at an earlier age than they used to, according to what is being called the largest-ever international study on tobacco use.
Despite years of anti-smoking measures across the world, most developing countries have low quit rates, according to the study in The Lancet medical journal Friday.
There are wide differences in the rates of smoking between genders and nations, as well as major disparities in access to effective anti-smoking treatments.
“Although 1.1 billion people have been covered by the adoption of the most effective tobacco control policies since 2008, 83 percent of the world’s populations are not covered by two or more of these policies,” said Gary Giovino of the University at Buffalo School of Public Health and Health Professions in New York, who led the research.
Measures include legislation banning smoking in public places, imposing advertising bans and requiring more graphic health warnings on cigarette packets.
The study, which covered enough representative samples to estimate tobacco use among 3 billion people, “demonstrates an urgent need for policy change in low- and middle-income countries,” said lead researcher Gary Giovino, whose report was published in the British medical journal The Lancet.
The figures bolster statements by the World Health Organization that while much of the industrialized world, including the United States, has seen a substantial reduction in smoking in recent years, the opposite trend is under way in parts of the developing world.
The WHO warns that “if current trends continue, it will cause up to one billion deaths in the 21st century.”
The findings come as the world’s leading tobacco firms, British American Tobacco, Imperial Tobacco, Philip Morris and Japan Tobacco lost a crucial legal appeal in Australia this week against the introduction of plain tobacco packaging.
Australia’s planned “no logo” laws are in line with World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendations and are being watched closely by Britain, Norway, New Zealand, Canada and India, which are considering similar measures.
Smoking causes lung cancer, often fatal, and other chronic respiratory diseases. It is also a major risk factor for cardiovascular diseases, the world’s number one killers. Ot her forms of tobacco use include snuff or chewing tobacco.
Using data from Global Adult Tobacco Surveys (GATS) carried out between 2008 and 2010, Giovino’s team compared patterns of tobacco use and cessation in people aged 15 or older from 14 low- and middle-income countries. They included data from Britain and the United States for comparison.
They found disproportionately high rates of smoking among men – at an average 41 percent versus 5 percent in women – and wide variation in smoking prevalence, ranging from about 22 percent of men in Brazil to more than 60 percent in Russia.
Rates of female smoking ranged from 0.5 percent in Egypt to almost 25 percent in Poland. Women in Britain and the United States also had high smoking rates, at 21 percent and 16 percent respectively.
The study found that around 64 percent of tobacco users smoke manufactured cigarettes, although loose-leaf chewing tobacco and snuff were particularly common in India and Bangladesh.
With an estimated 301 million tobacco users, China has more than any other country, closely followed by India with almost 275 million. Other countries included in the study were Bangladesh, Mexico, Philippines, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, Uruguay and Vietnam. The researchers said the rise in tobacco use among young women was of particular concern.
In a commentary about the study also published in The Lancet, Jeffrey Koplan from Emory University in the United States and Judith Mackay from the World Lung Foundation in Hong Kong called for more investment in tobacco control measures, saying current under-funding was “extraordinary”.
In low income countries, they said, for every $9,100 received in tobacco taxes, only $1 was spent on tobacco control.
The WHO says tobacco already kills around 6 million people a year worldwide, including more than 600,000 non-smokers who die from exposure to second-hand smoke.
By 2030, if current trends continue, it predicts tobacco could kill 8 million people a year.
In order to avoid such peril world governments need to perhaps take the following course of action. The items listed can either be jointly incorporated or individual nations can implement these steps.
- implement legislation to end tobacco displays in shops; by adopting this step many potential new smokers will be mitigated.
- look at whether the plain packaging of tobacco products could be an effective way to reduce the number of young people who take up smoking and to support adult smokers who want to quit, and consult on options by the end of the year;
- continue to defend tobacco legislation against legal challenges by the tobacco industry, including legislation to stop tobacco sales from vending machines by a specified date.
- continue to follow a policy of using tax to maintain the high price of tobacco products at levels that impact on smoking prevalence;
- promote effective local enforcement of tobacco legislation, particularly on the age of sale of tobacco;
- encourage more smokers to quit by using the most effective forms of support, through local stop smoking services; and
- publish a three-year marketing strategy for tobacco control.
Through the comprehensive action described in this plan, we want to reduce smoking rates faster in the next five years than has been achieved in the past five years. The plan sets out national ambitions:
- to reduce adult (aged 18 or over) smoking prevalence in England to 18.5 per cent or less by the end of 2015 (from 21.2 per cent), meaning around 210,000 fewer smokers a year.
- to reduce rates of regular smoking among 15 year olds in England to 12 per cent or less (from 15 per cent) by the end of 2015.
- to reduce rates of smoking throughout pregnancy to 11 per cent or less (from 14 per cent) by the end of 2015 (measured at time of giving birth).
Adopting any or all of these measures is a good first step forward, but that does not mean that the job is done. We will need to develop new strategies to lower world smoking rates.