- GENEVA (AFP) - Smoking is set to become the biggest single cause of
death and disability on Earth, with tobacco use worldwide reaching epidemic
proportions, according to a World Health Organization report published
- Thinking of lighting up? Read on -- the
following statistics and statements are drawn from the WHO report:
- ----Based on current patterns of consumption,
more than 500 million people currently alive are likely to be killed by
- ----Tobacco causes around 3.5 million
deaths annually, the figure set to rise to around 10 million deaths annually
during the 2020s or 2030s. Of the latter figure, 7 million deaths will
occur in developing countries.
- ----By 2020, it is predicted that 12
percent of deaths globally will be caused by tobacco, more than HIV, tuberculosis,
maternal mortality, road accidents, suicide and homicide combined.
- ----On average, smokers who begin smoking
in adolescence and continue to smoke regularly have a 50 percent chance
of dying from tobacco. Half of these will die in middle age, before age
70, losing around 22 years of normal life expectancy.
- ---- Based on current trends, around
250 million children currently alive will eventually be killed by tobacco.
- ----Tobacco is a known or probable cause
of numerous diseases:
- Cancer -- of the lip, oral cavity and
pharynx; the esophagus; the pancreas; the larynx; the lung, trachea and
bronchus; the urinary bladder; the kidney and other urinary organs;
- Respiratory diseases -- tuberculosis,
pneumonia and influenza, bronchitis and emphysema, asthma and chronic airway
- Cardiovascular diseases -- rheumatic
heart disease; hypertension; pulmonary heart disease; cerebrovascular diseases;
atherosclerosis; aortic aneurysm;
- Pediatric diseases -- low birth weight;
respiratory distress syndrome; newborn respiratory conditions; sudden infant
- ----WHO estimates that there are around
1.1 billion smokers in the world, around one third of the population aged
15 and over. Of these, 800 million are in developing countries.
- ----Data indicate that globally, 47 percent
of men and 12 percent of women smoke.
- ----By the mid-2020s the transfer of
smoking from rich to poor countries will be well advanced, with only 15
percent of the world's smokers living in rich countries.
- The biggest increases in the smoking-related
disease burden are expected in India and China. In China alone, where there
are 300 million smokers, new data show that there are already around 750,000
deaths a year caused by smoking.
- ----Stopping smoking benefits health
in all cases. One year after giving up smoking, the risk of coronary heart
disease decreases by 50 percent, and within 15 years the risk of coronary
heart disease is similar to that of a lifelong non-smoker.
- The relative risk of developing lung
cancer and strokes also decreases, though more slowly. Within 10 to 14
years of stopping smoking, the risk of death from cancer becomes comparable
to that of a lifelong non-smoker.