Each minute, smokers burn through nearly 11 million cigarettes and 10 perish from the habit – one approximately every six seconds.  The United Nations and the World Health Organization (WHO) have set aside today as World No Tobacco Day.  Following are a few facts to consider when measuring the impact of smoking on the world’s population.

How many people smoke?

  • There are around one billion smokers in the world – one-seventh of the global population – according to WHO and other estimates.
  • China has the highest number: within its population of 1.3 billion, about 315 million are smokers; and they consume more than a third of the world’s cigarettes, also according to WHO.
  • Indonesia has the highest proportion of smokers – 76% of the country’s men over 15 are stuck in the habit.
  • About 80% of the world’s smokers live in low to middle-income countries, and 226 million of them are considered poor.

On the decline?

  • A study published in The Lancet medical journal, April 2017, found the percentage of people using tobacco every day has dropped in 25 years.
  • One in four men and one in 20 women smoked daily in 2015, down from one in three men and one in 12 women in 1990.  Newest estimates are now showing 1 in 5 people smoke across the general population, or about the same as at the turn of the century.
  • Reductions in smoking rates in some nations “are almost entirely offset by the increasing consumption in many countries with weaker tobacco control regulations,” says The Tobacco Atlas anti-smoking lobby.  These include poorer parts of the world – in particular, sub-Saharan Africa.  In addition, Electronic cigarettes have also entered most markets.
  • Tobacco use has decreased in places such as Australia, Brazil and Britain, where anti-smoking measures include higher taxes, bans and health warnings. France reports a million fewer daily smokers in 2017 over 2016. Ireland and Uruguay are the two countries which have achieved the highest levels of tobacco control.
  • Since 2007, the number of people around the world to have benefited from stronger regulations has more than quadrupled – up from one billion to five billion.
  • Tobacco sales have even declined in China, down by 10% from a peak in 2012, according to the Euromonitor International market research group.

A high cost

Still, tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death.  Active smoking or passive contact kills more than seven million people every year, according to the WHO.  Cancers, heart attacks, strokes and lung diseases are the main health concerns associated with tobacco. Over the 20th century, tobacco claimed 100 million lives – more than the 60-80 million deaths during World War II and the 18 million in World War I combined.

At current rates, tobacco could account for up to a billion deaths in the 21st century, the WHO says. Smoking uses up almost 6% of world spending on healthcare as well as nearly 2% of global GDP, according to a January 2017 study in the scientific journal Tobacco Control. This amounted to $1.436 billion globally in 2012, 40% of which is borne by developing countries.

The benefits of quitting

This year, World No Tobacco Day highlights the impact of tobacco use on heart disease under the banner: “Tobacco Breaks Hearts”. There are many reasons to focus on heart health.

More people die from cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) worldwide than from any other cause, and tobacco use is responsible for about 10% of these deaths.  Despite broad public awareness of the connection between smoking and cancer, less attention has been given to the cardiovascular risks of smoking, including heart attack and stroke. When a person quits smoking, among the most immediate effects are a drop in heart rate, blood pressure and carbon monoxide levels in the blood – all important indicators for heart health.

Moreover, the benefits of smoking cessation and tobacco control policies for heart health can be seen almost immediately. While cancer risk decreases steadily over years after quitting smoking, the risks for heart attack and stroke decline much more rapidly. Evidence from many countries, including the U.S., demonstrates that implementation of comprehensive smoke-free laws reduces hospitalizations for acute coronary events. In fact, the majority of deaths caused by secondhand smoke are from heart disease and stroke and can clearly be prevented by policies that protect non-smokers.

Much progress has been made in tobacco control since the first World No Tobacco Day in 1987, yet there is more work to be done.  We must continue raising awareness about the harms of tobacco use and the benefits of going tobacco-free, especially in countries where the burden is greatest.

To find a healthcare professional, use HealthLynked. It is a first of its kind medical network built as a social ecosystem with a higher purpose – improving healthcare. Go to HealthLynked.com to learn more, sign up for free, connect with your doctor, find a new doctor, and securely store and share your health information. Download our HealthLynked app available on Apple and Android devices.


Hindustan Times



Up Next
© Copyright 2018 HealthLynked