The Advantage of Anti-Smoking LegislationIf you're fortunate enough to live in a country that aggressively works to protect its citizens from death by tobacco through anti-smoking legislation, the above scenarios probably seem bizarre. That is a good thing; a positive byproduct of the conditioning that years of increasing focus on tobacco control has done for us. Smoking is on the decline in countries that take the dangers of tobacco use seriously, and fewer innocent bystanders are poisoned by the effects of breathing in secondhand smoke. If, however, you live in a developing nation where there are no resources in place to educate people about the hazards of tobacco use, or to protect them from the marketing tactics of Big Tobacco, you are at a distinct disadvantage.
The Global Tobacco CrisisThe World Health Organization (WHO) recently published a startling report on the state of tobacco use around the world, along with some dire predictions about our future, should we continue on the path we're presently walking. Based on current trends in tobacco use worldwide, they tell us that we are poised on the brink of a global tobacco epidemic that could claim as many as one billion lives this century.
Mirriam-Webster defines an epidemic as something that affects a disproportionately large number of people within a population, community, or region at the same time. Typhoid fever was an epidemic, and tobacco use will be too, unless we do something drastic to change these trends, and do it soon.
Today, tobacco use is growing the fastest in low-income countries that are least equipped to deal with the disease and early death that accompanies smoking-related disease. Between population growth and tobacco marketing campaigns that target these areas with little or no legislation in place to restrict advertising, millions of new addicts are emerging every year. According to the WHO report, more than 80 percent of global tobacco-related deaths will be in low and middle-income countries by the year 2030.
Pertinent Tobacco Statistics
- There are 1.1 billion smokers in the world today, and if things continue as they have, that number is expected to increase to 1.6 billion by the year 2025.
- China is home to 300 million smokers who consume upwards of 1.7 trillion cigarettes a year, or 3 million cigarettes a minute.
- As many as 100 million Chinese men presently under the age of 30 will die from tobacco use.
- There are approximately 120 million smokers in India today, and it is estimated that in the year 2010 alone, there will be close to one million tobacco-related deaths among men and women age 30 to 69 in India.
- Worldwide, tobacco use will kill more than 175 million people between now and the year 2030.
- Current tobacco-related health care costs in the United States total US $81 billion annually. Germany spends an average of US $7 billion, and Australia, US $1 billion each year on health care directly related to tobacco use.
- Health care costs associated with secondhand smoke total US $5 billion a year in the U.S.
- It is estimated that as many as 500 million people alive today will be killed by tobacco use unless significant anti-smoking measures are adopted on a global level.
MPOWERSix Policies to Reverse the Tobacco Epidemic
In an effort to raise global awareness about the dangers of tobacco use, WHO has put together a six-part plan of action that, if enacted worldwide, has the potential to alter the tobacco epidemic we face on this planet in the coming years.
The MPOWER strategies at a glance:
- Monitor tobacco use and prevention policies
- Protect people from tobacco smoke
- Offer help to quit tobacco use
- Warn about the dangers of tobacco
- Enforce bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship
- Raise taxes on tobacco