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Updated On: Wednesday, 22 August 2018
Development Issues

World No Tobacco Day

Content by: South-South News

1 June 2018, New York, USA | South-South News — For World No Tobacco Day 2018, celebrated on May 31, WHO has joined with the World Heart Federation to highlight the link between tobacco and cardiovascular diseases (CVD) - the world’s leading causes of death, responsible for 44% of all non-combat deaths, or 17.9 million deaths annually.

Tobacco use has declined markedly since 2000, according to a new World Health Organization (WHO) report, but the reduction is insufficient to meet globally agreed targets aimed at protecting people from death and suffering from cardiovascular and other non-communicable diseases.

Tobacco use and second-hand smoke exposure are major causes of cardiovascular diseases, including heart attacks and stroke, contributing to approximately 3 million deaths per year. But evidence reveals a serious lack of knowledge of the multiple health risks associated with tobacco.

Dr. Vinayak Prasad, the Program Manager for WHO’s Tobacco Free Initiative, said, “Seven million people die from tobacco use every year, and out of that 3 million people die from cardiovascular diseases. And most of the time in many countries people do not know about the risks from tobacco and cardiovascular. So the situation is not clear. For this World No Tobacco Day, the focus is to raise that awareness and to look at the links between cardiovascular diseases (CVD) due to tobacco use.”

While many people are aware tobacco use increases the risk of cancer, there are alarming gaps in knowledge of the cardiovascular risks of tobacco use. In many countries, this low awareness is substantial. For example in China, over 60% of the population is unaware smoking can cause heart attacks, according to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey. In India and Indonesia, more than half of adults do not know smoking can cause stroke.

“Cardiovascular diseases are (responsible for) 17.9 million deaths – this is the most common cause of death in the world, and tobacco has a huge share in that burden,” Prasad said.

The report also shows that worldwide, 27% smoked tobacco in 2000, compared to 20% in 2016. However, the pace of action in reducing tobacco demand and related death and disease is lagging behind global and national commitments to reduce tobacco use by 30% by 2025 among people aged 15 and older. If the trend continues on the current trajectory, the world will only achieve a 22% reduction by 2025.

Alison Commar, a tobacco control epidemiologist for WHO, said, “While the rates have been declining, the number of people has not declined because of population growth. So, we have 1.1 billion smokers today, and in 2000 we had 1.1 billion smokers, so a lot more effort needs to be made to bring this number down, because those 1.1 billion people are exposed to the harms of tobacco every day.”

Over half of all WHO Member States have reduced demand for tobacco, and almost one in eight are likely to meet the 30% reduction target by 2025. But countries must do more to monitor tobacco use in all its forms – not only tobacco smoking. Currently, one in four countries have insufficient data to monitor their tobacco epidemic.

Worldwide, about 7%, or just over 24 million children aged 13–15, smoke cigarettes (17 million boys and 7 million girls). About 4% of children aged 13–15 years (13 million) use smokeless tobacco products.

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