One in four men who smoke cigarettes started in their teens. Worldwide 933 million people are smokers and 80% of these chain-smokers live in low-income and middle-income countries. According to research smoking is claiming more than five million lives every year. So, who is responsible for this global health disaster?
So, who is responsible for this global health disaster? Have parents neglected their responsibilities to educated their children about the dangers of smoking? Or have the tobacco companies captured the market that few can resist the media or peer pressure?
To help you see the bigger picture (I’m sure you know about it), British American Tobacco (BAT), is one of five transnational companies that is showing strong earnings and growing market share. BAT is market leadership in more than 55 countries and manufacturing facilities in 42 of them. In 2016, BAT sold 665 billion cigarettes, making £5·2 billion in profit; and recorded rising profits across most of the world.
Let juxtapose that with the World Health Organization (WHO) study that estimates there are over 1 billion smokers worldwide.
Tobacco, including cigarette smoking, kills 5.4 million people a year and is a risk factor for six of the eight leading causes of deaths in the world. Despite reductions in the prevalence of smoking in developed countries, smoking is increasing globally. Recent evidence also indicates that smoking contributes to more illness than was evident previously.
Smoking also incurs significant financial costs to society. An estimated US $500 billion are lost each year due to healthcare expenditures, lost productivity, and other financial costs due to smoking.
Every year, on 31 May, WHO and partners mark World No Tobacco Day (WNTD), highlighting the health and additional risks associated with tobacco use, and advocating for effective policies to reduce tobacco consumption. The theme for World No Tobacco Day 2017 is “Tobacco – a threat to development.”
Considering the significant public health and financial impact incurred by smoking, preventing smoking initiation and promoting cessation are global public health goals. Empirical evidence indicates strong, graphic warnings have an impact in reducing tobacco use.
A new review from the independent health research organisation Cochrane on the impact of plain packaging around the world has found that it does affect the behaviour of smokers. South Africa became one of the first countries in the world to ban smoking in public places in 2000 when it introduced its Tobacco Products Control Amendment Act.