WHO Report Unveils: 8 Million Annual Deaths Linked to Tobacco Use Amid Global Decline

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Tobacco use is estimated to kill at least 8 million people per annum, as stated in the WHO (World Health Organization) latest tobacco trends report released on Monday, 17 January 2024. There has been an overall global decline in tobacco use over the last 2 decades, with about one in five adults worldwide consuming tobacco in 2022, compared to one in three in 2000. India is among the 150 countries that have been successful in reducing tobacco use, according to the WHO report.

However, the WHO warned that tobacco-related deaths were expected to remain high for years to come. The world is set to miss its goal of a 30% drop in tobacco use between 2010 and 2025. At least 8 million people each year are killed due to the use of tobacco. This includes an estimated 1.3 million non-smokers who are exposed to second-hand smoke, the report says.

Dr. Ruediger Kerch, the director of WHO’s Department of Health Promotion, stated, “Good progress has been made in tobacco control in recent years, but there is no time for complacency.” He was astounded at the depth the tobacco industry would go to pursue profits at the cost of countless lives. He added that the minute a government thinks they have won the fight against tobacco, the tobacco industry seizes the opportunity to manipulate health policies and sell their deadly products.

The South East Asia region of WHO has the highest percentage of the population using tobacco at 26.5%, with the European Region not far behind at 25.3%. According to the WHO report, the European Region is projected to have the highest rates globally with a prevalence of just over 23%, while the use in the South East Asian Region will come down to 20% by 2030. The report said, “While the numbers have steadily decreased over the years, the world will make it to a 25% relative reduction in tobacco use by 2025.” However, the world will miss the voluntary global goal of a 30% reduction from the 2010 baseline. Only 56 nations globally will reach this goal, down 4 countries since the last report in 2021, the report added.

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All countries are urged by WHO to continue putting in place tobacco control policies and fight against interference from the tobacco industry. WHO will dedicate this year’s World No Tobacco Day to protecting children from tobacco industry interference, the UN health agency said in the report from Geneva. The focus should be on gathering better data on tobacco use among adolescents, especially for newer “smokeless” products.

The latest smokeless tobacco products include suns or dissolvable ones. Unlike traditional oral (smokeless) tobacco products (loose chewing tobacco or moist snuff), suns and dissolvable tobacco come in pre-packaged portions and do not require users to expel saliva byproducts. Additionally, suns and dissolvable products could appeal to youth because they are predominantly marketed in flavors. In short, the WHO report points out that while tobacco use is declining across the world, it is not fast enough. It is estimated that tobacco use kills at least 8 million people every year.

The focus on gathering data should be on tobacco use among adolescents, especially for newer “smokeless” products. It remains one of the mysteries why a human being uses tobacco, whose huge leaves are left untouched even by animals due to its horrible smell.

Govind Tekale

Embarking on a new journey post-retirement, Govind, once a dedicated teacher, has transformed his enduring passion for current affairs and general knowledge into a conduit for expression through writing. His historical love affair with reading, which borders on addiction, has evolved into a medium to articulate his thoughts and disseminate vital information. Govind pens down his insights on a myriad of crucial topics, including the environment, wildlife, energy, sustainability, and health, weaving through every aspect that is quintessential for both our existence and that of our planet. His writings not only mirror his profound understanding and curiosity but also serve as a valuable resource, offering a deep dive into issues that are critical to our collective future and well-being.

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