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News: December 9, 2009

Smoking Kills Millions Worldwide Every Year

December 9, 2009

Tobacco use kills at least 5 million people every year, a figure that could rise if countries don't take stronger measures to combat smoking, the World Health Organization said Wednesday.
In a new report on tobacco use and control, the U.N. agency said nearly 95 percent of the global population is unprotected by laws banning smoking. WHO said secondhand smoking kills about 600,000 people every year.
The report describes countries' various strategies to curb smoking, including protecting people from smoke, enforcing bans on tobacco advertising, and raising taxes on tobacco products. Those were included in a package of six strategies WHO unveiled last year, but less than 10 percent of the world's population is covered by any single measure.
"People need more than to be told that tobacco is bad for human health," said Douglas Bettcher, director of WHO's Tobacco-Free Initiative. "They need their governments to implement the WHO Framework Convention."
Most of WHO's anti-tobacco efforts are centered on the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, an international treaty ratified by nearly 170 countries in 2003. The convention theoretically obliges countries to take action to reduce tobacco use, though it is unclear if they can be punished for not taking adequate measures, since they can simply withdraw from the treaty.
Other experts questioned how effective WHO's strategies were.
"It's like the well-intentioned blind leading the blind," said Patrick Basham, director of the Democracy Institute, a London and Washington-based think tank. He said WHO's policies were based more on hope than evidence.
Basham said measures like increasing taxes on tobacco products and banning advertising don't address the root causes of why people smoke. Smoking levels naturally drop off " as they have in Western countries " when populations become richer and better-educated.
Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death and WHO estimates that, unless countries take drastic action, tobacco could kill about 8 million people every year by 2030, mostly in developing countries.
Basham said officials should focus on anti-poverty measures to stem the smoking problem, though that is beyond WHO's mandate as a health agency.
"The cynical view is that the anti-tobacco lobby has itself now become an industry and we will never be able to do enough to stop smoking," Basham said. "Tobacco use will change, but it has very little to do with the kinds of things WHO is promoting."


Archive issues: (50)

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November 5, 2009 | To Quit Smoking, Use Patch Plus Lozenge

Out of five different smoking cessation methods, the nicotine patch plus lozenges proved to be the most effective, according to research published in the November issue of Archives of General Psychiatry. The study is the first to compare the different products against each other.  Megan E. Piper, PhD and colleagues at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine ...

November 4, 2009 | Soft Drinks Take a Toll on Your Health

The only positive thing one can say about soft drinks is that they taste good, but the price people pay in terms of their health for that good taste can be high. When we look at the benefits and risks associated with soft drink consumption, the risk side of the equation is clearly the winner-and ...

November 3, 2009 | Yoga Benefits Cancer Patients

Some of the major cancer centers across the country, including MD Anderson, Memorial Sloan-Kettering, and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, now offer their patients yoga as a complementary therapy in an ...

Archive list: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 [14] 15 16 17

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