WHO: Smoking kills 5 million every year

Dec 09, 2009 By MARIA CHENG , AP Medical Writer

(AP) -- 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 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 ," Basham said. "Tobacco use will change, but it has very little to do with the kinds of things WHO is promoting."

©2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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User comments : 28

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JerryPark
3 / 5 (2) Dec 09, 2009
Of course, we can enact strict laws in response to pseudo-science, or we can give such reports the attention they deserve (which is to ignore them).
Velanarris
3 / 5 (2) Dec 09, 2009
And starvation affects 1 in 6 people, or over 1 billion world-wide.

Leave my smoking alone and go grow some food.
frajo
2 / 5 (4) Dec 09, 2009
Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death
Preventing tobacco does not prevent death.
I don't understand why some people try to tell other people what kind of death suits them best.
marjon
2.3 / 5 (3) Dec 09, 2009
"Smoking levels naturally drop off - as they have in Western countries - when populations become richer and better-educated. "

So what is WHO doing to promote liberty and free markets around the world? Liberty and free markets have been proven to make people richer and better educated.
frajo
1 / 5 (2) Dec 09, 2009
Liberty and free markets have been proven to make people richer and better educated.
s/people/some people/
Velanarris
not rated yet Dec 09, 2009
Liberty and free markets have been proven to make people richer and better educated.
s/people/some people/


Compare a poor person in America to a middle class person in every non-EU country and tell me who has a better life.
frajo
1 / 5 (1) Dec 09, 2009
Liberty and free markets have been proven to make people richer and better educated.
s/people/some people/

Compare a poor person in America to a middle class person in every non-EU country and tell me who has a better life.
Unfortunately, I don't know personally any poor person in Haiti or elsewhere in America. I happen to know a middle class person from Shanghai. He is happy. And I know a very poor woman in Greece. She is happy. But you didn't want to know that, I assume.
Caliban
3.3 / 5 (3) Dec 09, 2009
Yes- it does seem that the object of this finding is to try to further demonize a well-known cause of disease and death, even when there is already widespread understanding of the risks that tobacco use entails.
It would be much better to utilize resources to try to combat the bigger problems of hunger, poverty, and lack of education, than to try to get points by belaboring the already proven and obvious.
I just had a smoke, so I'll probably wait awhile before I have another. Then I'll see about indulging in some holiday season adult beverage consumption.
Velanarris
not rated yet Dec 10, 2009
Unfortunately, I don't know personally any poor person in Haiti or elsewhere in America. I happen to know a middle class person from Shanghai. He is happy. And I know a very poor woman in Greece. She is happy. But you didn't want to know that, I assume.

I know some Amazonian tribe's people that are happy all the time. They also believe that airplanes are great metal birds that we've trained to swallow and regurgitate people.

Ignorance is bliss. Which is why I said, "has a better life" not "is happy".
frajo
1 / 5 (1) Dec 11, 2009
Ignorance is bliss. Which is why I said, "has a better life" not "is happy".
You forget that many a people don't had any choice to get a better education if there parents wanted them to work on the fields instead. We should congratulate them if they manage to be happy nevertheless.
We all are ignorant under many aspects. It's a fallacy to belittle other human beings because of their specific ignorance. Your wisdom when asked for the meaning of "porphyrogennitos" is the same as the Amazonian's when asked for the meaning of "supersonic plane" - it's personally unimportant.
Equally subjective is the definition of a "better life". I don't impose on you my kriteria for a "better life" - why do you?
defunctdiety
not rated yet Dec 11, 2009
Just wait until socialized health care is finalized. It will then become everyone's, especially the governments, business exactly what unhealthy habits you choose to pursue. It'll be awesome.
Velanarris
not rated yet Dec 11, 2009
Frajo,

being mentally capable to ensure the safety and security of your family trumps being a subsistence farmer any day of the week. Otherwise America wouldn't have an illegal immigration problem.
marjon
1 / 5 (1) Dec 11, 2009
Just wait until socialized health care is finalized. It will then become everyone's, especially the governments, business exactly what unhealthy habits you choose to pursue. It'll be awesome.

Governments tax tobacco to ostensibly pay for health care.
defunctdiety
1 / 5 (1) Dec 11, 2009
Governments tax tobacco to ostensibly pay for health care.

And once health care is socialized, they will tax trans fats, fast food, soda, high fructose corn syrup, parking close to a building, anything that they connect to negative health effects (like CO2 and methane which have literally no negative health effects) and can make money off of. As I said, this is gonna rock guys!
Velanarris
not rated yet Dec 11, 2009
Governments tax tobacco to ostensibly pay for health care.

Nope, they just tax it for revenue. What happens to that revenue is arbitrary.
CarolinaScotsman
not rated yet Dec 12, 2009
World governments are worried about over population and want to find a way to limit it. World goverments are trying to make more people live longer by doing away with health risks and improving medical care. Does anyone else see a lapse of logic?
frajo
1 / 5 (1) Dec 13, 2009
World governments are worried about over population and want to find a way to limit it. World goverments are trying to make more people live longer by doing away with health risks and improving medical care. Does anyone else see a lapse of logic?
Yes. It's unlogical to assume that the governments of the world are following a common grand scheme.
frajo
1 / 5 (1) Dec 13, 2009
being mentally capable to ensure the safety and security of your family trumps being a subsistence farmer any day of the week. Otherwise America wouldn't have an illegal immigration problem.
This is the theory. In practice, many people start with high hopes and end in the misery of immigration jails, branded as "terrorists":
"Broad Provision in Immigration Law Results in Refugees, Asylum Seekers Being Labeled Terrorists"
http://www.trutho.../1202099
marjon
1 / 5 (1) Dec 13, 2009
In practice, many people start with high hopes and end in the misery of immigration jails, branded as "terrorists"

If true why do they keep coming?
BTW what is the percentage of 'many'?
Illegal aliens in the USA get away with many crimes. Especially auto violations. They walk away and don't show up for court.
Also, a significant percentage of the US prison population are illegal aliens convicted of real crimes.
"Some estimates show illegals now make up half of California's prison population, creating a massive criminal subculture that strains state budgets and creates a nightmare for local police forces.""
http://archive.ne...08.shtml
CA gets what they deserve.
marjon
1 / 5 (1) Dec 13, 2009
""Dealing with climate change is not simply an issue of CO2 emission reduction but a comprehensive challenge involving political, economic, social, cultural and ecological issues, and the population concern fits right into the picture," said Zhao, who is a member of the Chinese government delegation. "

http://www.chinad...1129.htm

How will they implement such control? Forced abortions?
frajo
1 / 5 (1) Dec 13, 2009
illegal aliens
What's the difference between "alien" and "stranger"?
marjon
not rated yet Dec 13, 2009
illegal aliens
What's the difference between "alien" and "stranger"?

What?
frajo
1 / 5 (1) Dec 13, 2009
illegal aliens
What's the difference between "alien" and "stranger"?
What?
Why do you use the word "alien" instead of the word "stranger"?
marjon
5 / 5 (1) Dec 13, 2009
Aliens are not citizens. Those with visas are legal aliens.
Strangers are anyone you don't know.
Birger
not rated yet Dec 14, 2009
Let's get back on topic -while tobacco provides nicotine, it is also a crop that is simple to modify genetically compared to other plants.
So instead of making tobacco farmers go bankrupt when people get more health-conscious, GM tobacco could provide a lot of value-added chemicals such as pharmaceuticals. We can fight smoking without making people unemployed.
Those who like a nicotine fix may try the Swedish variant of moist oral tobacco known as "snus", it is much safer than other types of oral tobacco (and, of course, will not give you lung cancer like cigarettes or smoked cannabis).
frajo
1 / 5 (1) Dec 14, 2009
Aliens are not citizens. Those with visas are legal aliens.
Strangers are anyone you don't know.
I see. And the ancient Greeks called barbarians those who didn't speek Greek fluently.

moist oral tobacco known as "snus", it is much safer than other types of oral tobacco (and, of course, will not give you lung cancer like cigarettes or smoked cannabis).
Cigarettes only when inhaled.
How many are killed by smoking their pipes is a carefully hidden secret. Because it doesn't fit into the scheme of the campaigners and their sponsors.
Velanarris
not rated yet Dec 14, 2009
Those who like a nicotine fix may try the Swedish variant of moist oral tobacco known as "snus", it is much safer than other types of oral tobacco (and, of course, will not give you lung cancer like cigarettes or smoked cannabis).

No but you'll get stomache cancer, jaw cancer, sinus cancer, etc.

There is really no safe means of tobacco use due to it's high addiction rate. Moderate use is fine, abuse is not. That's the same for all substances.

And I'm a smoker who abuses tobacco, SNUs are just another replacement mechanism considered more socially friendly since it can be done anywhere as opposed to only outside.
marjon
not rated yet Dec 14, 2009
Those who like a nicotine fix may try the Swedish variant of moist oral tobacco known as "snus", it is much safer than other types of oral tobacco (and, of course, will not give you lung cancer like cigarettes or smoked cannabis).

No but you'll get stomache cancer, jaw cancer, sinus cancer, etc.

There is really no safe means of tobacco use due to it's high addiction rate. Moderate use is fine, abuse is not. That's the same for all substances.

And I'm a smoker who abuses tobacco, SNUs are just another replacement mechanism considered more socially friendly since it can be done anywhere as opposed to only outside.

Snus, like Copenhagen, is more difficult to kick. And it does induce cancers.

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