Tobacco Kills Six Million People Each Year


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U.S: 3 million high school students smoke as well as 600,000 middle schoolers.

Tobacco kills nearly six million people each year, including more than 5 million smokers and ex-users and more than 600,000 nonsmokers exposed to second-hand smoke, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).  

A 2012 report from the United States Surgeon General says, “We have made progress in reducing tobacco use among youth; however, far too many young people are still using tobacco. Today, more than 600,000 middle school students and 3 million high school students smoke cigarettes. Rates of decline for cigarette smoking have slowed in the last decade and rates of decline for smokeless tobacco use have stalled completely.

The report also says, every day, more than 1,200 people in this country die due to smoking. For each of those deaths, at least two youth or young adults become regular smokers each day. Almost 90% of those replacement smokers smoke their first cigarette by age 18.

There could be 3 million fewer young smokers today if success in reducing youth tobacco use that was made between 1997 and 2003 had been sustained.

Rates of smokeless tobacco use are no longer declining, and they appear to be increasing among some groups.

Cigars, especially cigarette-sized cigars, are popular with youth. One out of five high school males smokes cigars, and cigar use appears to be increasing among other groups.

Use of multiple tobacco products—including cigarettes, cigars, and smokeless tobacco—is common among young people.

Prevention efforts must focus on young adults ages 18 through 25, too. Almost no one starts smoking after age 25. Nearly 9 out of 10 smokers started smoking by age 18, and 99% started by age 26. Progression from occasional to daily smoking almost always occurs by age 26.

According to WHO, only fifty-nine countries, representing under half of the world's population, monitor tobacco use by repeating nationally representative youth and adult surveys at least once every five years.

Recently, The World Health Organization gave China’s health minister an award for battling smoking in a country where smoking is extremely popular.

The Health Ministry released the country’s first official report on the harms of smoking recently, banned smoking in its office building and hospitals, and is lobbying for airports and other indoor public facilities to do the same.

According to the Associated Press, “Tobacco control is a difficult task in a nation where huge revenues from the state-owned tobacco monopoly hinder anti-smoking measures. Nearly 30 percent of adults in China smoke — about 300 million people, roughly equal to the entire U.S. population — a percentage that has not changed significantly.

“The tobacco monopoly’s influence is pervasive, with cigarette companies sponsoring schools, sports events and fostering close ties with the academic community.”

Health officials have warned that smoking-related deaths could hit 3 million per year by 2030 without greater efforts.

Recently, WHO called on national leaders to be extra vigilant against the increasingly aggressive attacks by the industry which undermine policies that protect people from the harms of tobacco.

“In recent years, multinational tobacco companies have been shamelessly fueling a series of legal actions against governments that have been at the forefront of the war against tobacco. The industry is now stepping out of the shadows and into court rooms,” says WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan. “We must now stand together with these governments that have had the courage to do the right thing to protect their citizens.”

Tobacco kills up to half its users. By 2030, WHO estimates that tobacco will kill more than 8 million people every year, with four out of five of these deaths occurring in low and middle-income countries. Tobacco is a major risk factor for non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases. NCDs account for 63% of all deaths worldwide.

In nonsmokers, exposure to secondhand smoke is estimated to kill another 600 000 people annually. Almost half of all children regularly breathe air polluted by tobacco smoke and more than 40% of children have at least one smoking parent. In 2004, children accounted for nearly one third of deaths attributable to secondhand smoke.

Most adult smokers started the habit before the age 20. To recruit new smokers, the industry’s marketing machinery targets youth, especially young women.


Visit your local library to obtain these  resources:

Life After Cigarettes
by Dr. Cindy Pomerleau

Quit Smoking Today Without Gaining Weight
by Paul McKenna

A Talk With Your Kids About Not Smoking (DVD)
by Patrick Reynolds

Easyway to Stop Smoking
by Allen Carr

Smoke-Free in 30 Days
by Dr. Daniel Seidman


Online Resources has a list of state smoking organizations.




Image credit:

Smoking Kid by Austin King

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