The tobacco epidemic kills nearly 6 million people in a year, of which more than 600,000 are non-smokers. Please die of cancer, heart-disease, asthma and other problems caused by secondary smoking. By 2030 the statics is to shoot up to eight million if unchecked. Tobacco use is a risk factor for 6 of the 8 leading causes of death.
Of these 80% of the deaths will occur in the developing world. This is because the marketing and advertising strategy of the global tobacco industry is focusing on the young people of the developing country. These developing countries have relatively low-level of women tobacco users currently and the tobacco industry is reaching out to them aggressively.
The tobacco epidemic is preventable, yet only half the world’s population lives in a country that fully protects its people with at least one of the key policy interventions that significantly reduces tobacco use.
Six policies to curb tobacco epidemic.
This is outlined in the WHO’s MPOWER strategy
Monitoring tobacco use and prevention
Protecting people from tobacco smoke
Warning people about the dangers of tobacco
Enforcing bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.
Raising taxes on tobacco.
1. Policy 1—monitoring tobacco use and prevention.—in 2004 about 5 million adults aged 30yrs died from direct tobacco use, both smoke and smokeless, periodic assessment of sue and impacts must be strengthened if these survey are conducted at least once in 5yrs trends can be mapped preventive and prophylactic measures can be taken.
2. Policy 2 – protecting people from tobacco smoke.—government offices in more than ½ countries of the world, accounting for 2/3 the population allow smoking in work places, govt. Offices and other indoor setting smoke-free workplaces in several industrialized nations has reduced the total tobacco consumption among employees by an average of 29%
3. Policy 3 – offering help to quit tobacco use – once the awareness of tobacco use dangers set in three out of four would like to quit, but services to quit dependence is available to only 5% of the world’s population. The countries health care systems can hold the primary responsibility for treating tobacco dependence.
4. Policy 4—warning about tobacco dangers—using graphic warning on tobacco products that cover at least 30% of the principal surface area,helps in reduction of new users. Even deceptive package terms like light, low-tar are misleading for none of these actually signify any reduction in health risk.
5. Policy 5 – enforcing bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship –about 16% decline in tobacco consumption was seen following the ban of tobacco advertisements, however,half of the children of the world live in countries that do not ban free distribution of tobacco products.
6. Policy 6 – raising taxes on tobacco products – 10% increase in tobacco price brought the consumption down by 4% in high income countries and 8% in middle and low-income countries. This might be an interesting option to explore. 70% price hike could reduce tobacco related mortality by 25%