Group Says Tobacco Causes 2 Million Cancer Deaths Each Year

The American Cancer Society and the World Lung Foundation just published information stating that tobacco use kills about six million people annually, reports ScienceDaily. Of those, over one-third will die from <"">cancer. The information appears in The Tobacco Atlas, Third Edition—published by the two groups—and was just presented at the LIVESTRONG Global Cancer Summit.

The Atlas indicated that tobacco use costs the international economy $500 billion in U.S. dollars annually and is particularly damaging to middle- and low-income countries, said Science Daily. The Atlas also “tracks progress and outcomes in tobacco control,” said Science Daily. Losses are seen, for example in “lost productivity, misused resources, missed opportunities for taxation, and premature death,” reported ScienceDaily.

ScienceDaily has long noted that tobacco use is the number one cause of preventable death worldwide; the World Health Organization (WHO) previously estimated that over five million people die annually from smoking. According to the LA Times previously, citing the National Institutes of Health (NIH), about one-third—30 percent—of “youth” smokers will die prematurely from a “smoking-related disease.”

The Tobacco Atlas stated that about 2.1 million cancer deaths annually will have originated with tobacco by the year 2015, said ScienceDaily; by 2030 the majority—an overwhelming 83 percent—of these deaths will take place in low- and middle-income countries.

Implementing taxes on tobacco, banning tobacco advertising, establishing smoke-free public areas, and including meaningful warnings on tobacco product packaging are proven tobacco preventatives, said ScienceDaily. These measures are also included in the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), according to ScienceDaily. The FCTC is a “global treaty” involving over 160 countries that is also recommended by the WHO MPOWER policy package.

From an international economic perspective, the massive financial losses occur for a variety of reasons. For example, a good percentage of smokers become ill or die when they are at their peak productive years causing significant losses to families and economies with lost pay and time from work and massive healthcare bills, to name two, said Science Daily.

Although a legal product, cigarettes are the most smuggled consumer product with an estimated 600 billion cigarettes smuggled into the market in 2006, said Science Daily, which pointed out that this diversion of established economic pathways results in lost government taxes, for example. Also, tobacco crops are produced on nearly four million hectares of global land, the equivalent of the world’s total orange groves, said ScienceDaily.

Of significant concern, according to the Tobacco Atlas, big tobacco is now targeting advertising to low- and middle-income countries in which there exists minimal health policies and tobacco control. One sad statistic out of Bangladesh: If a typical family bought food with the money it spent on tobacco, over 10 million residents would no longer suffer from malnutrition and 350 young children would be saved from death daily, said Science Daily.

Science Daily also pointed out that tobacco production has increased exponentially in lower-income countries while decreasing by half in countries with greater resources.

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