Non-Communicable Diseases II

Impact of Tobacco abuse

Now I want to introduce you to the number one mass killer in the world, tobacco. In the 20th Century tobacco killed 100 million people. And this was more than all the wars of that very violent century put together. But in the 21st Century, it is estimated by the World Health Organization that tobacco could kill one billion people if we do not take measures to stop it. The problem about tobacco is that it is killing people all over the world, especially poor people.

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Even as of now, about six million people die each year because of tobacco and about 70% of them are in the developing countries. By year 2030, tobacco will be killing at least eight million people each year and about 80% of them will be in the developing countries. It is the largest preventable cause of death in the world today. Tobacco is consumed in many forms across the world, mostly in the form of cigarettes in the western world and in many of the developing countries. But there are other forms of tobacco consumption, whether it is the hand-rolled beedi in India or the shisha in the Middle East, or even oral tobacco, because tobacco is chewed in many forms in South Asia and now increasingly in Africa and the Middle East. Indeed, you would find that deaths due to oral cancer are much higher in the South Asian countries because of the habit of chewing tobacco which is now the leading form of tobacco consumption in India. Tobacco steals away about eight years of a person’s life on an average. And the British Physicians Study which first brought this to light showed that people who smoke even small numbers of cigarettes stand to lose some part of their life expectancy compared to those who do not smoke at all. And those who smoke in large quantities are likely to die much younger because of the effects of tobacco which are far reaching in terms of more than 25 diseases. You have cardiovascular diseases which are the number one killer because of tobacco, followed closely by cancers and then by respiratory diseases. And all of these serve to take people away prematurely into death or disability. But the good news is that if people stop consuming tobacco, especially before the age of 35 years, then much of this risk can be reversed. Most of the risk of cardiovascular disease can be reversed within three years. Some of the risk of cancer can continue up to 20 years. But if you want to ensure that your life expectancy is almost similar to that of a nonsmoker, better give up tobacco consumption early on, especially before 35 years where there’s a huge gain because of cessation. Tobacco steals not only health, but also steals income and an opportunity for development. For example in most households where tobacco is consumed in poor families you find that education as well as children’s nutrition suffer. In the Philippines, the poorest households were spending more on tobacco than on education, health and clothing combined. In fact about 20% of the household income in a smoker’s family was going to tobacco. And similarly in China, India and Thailand, everywhere we find that there is a developmental cost to tobacco in terms of lost educational opportunities for children, for nutrition, and many other ways in which tobacco affects household welfare. And we recognize that as tobacco is increasingly becoming a global threat, there are very many ways we can prevent the harm from tobacco and reduce the consumption of tobacco, especially among the poor and the young and the women who are being targeted by the tobacco industry. There is evidence available from a number of countries, particularly from the high income countries, but also from the low income countries that measures such as taxation, advertising bans, smoke-free policies which ensure smoke-free public places and indoor work places as well as effective health warnings, especially pictorial health warnings are very effective in reducing tobacco consumption. Indeed, in the United Kingdom in the 20-year period between 1981 and 2000, 48.1% off all deaths averted, the entire mortality reduction in the U.K., 48% of that was because of reduced smoking. You can’t have a more effective public health intervention than that. And much of this has now been codified into what’s called the MPOWER Package developed together by the World Health Organization as well as the CDC in the United States. In year 2003, about 178 countries subscribed to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control which was developed by the WHO as the first public health treaty in the world. And the measures that are advocated for implementation of that treaty and which are captured in the MPOWER package are effective surveillance and monitoring, protection against secondhand smoke, that is, ban on public and indoor smoking in workplaces and cessation support, that is offer of help to quit, effective health warnings on tobacco product packaging, enforcement of comprehensive advertising bans and raising tobacco taxes. Of these, tobacco taxes have been identified both by the World Health Organization and the World Bank to be the most effective way of reducing tobacco consumption because raising taxes raises prices and those with low disposable incomes like the poor, the young, and others who have low incomes like women in many developing countries are less likely to consume tobacco or are more likely to give up tobacco if that happens And this has been shown to be quite effective in many countries. For example, in France as well as in South Africa it has been shown that if you raise tobacco prices threefold, then you halve the consumption and double the income that the government earns from tax revenue. And in the Philippines now, they have not only raised the taxes but are using 70% of that to finance universal health coverage. So much good can come not only by lowering consumption, but by also using the revenue for improving public health. Also we recognize that banning of smoking in public places and indoor work places can have tremendous health benefits. For example, it has been shown in a number of countries that if you ban smoking in public places, hospital admissions due to heart attacks come down within six months. In fact, it has been shown by combining all the data from many studies in many countries that at least 17% reduction in hospitalization due to acute heart attacks can happen. Within months, if you ban smoking in public places. So there can be tremendous benefit from some of these policies. But we also know that effective pictorial health warnings, especially showing the harm in terms of cancer, heart attacks and effects on children, small babies who are born to smoking mothers, all of these can motivate smokers to give up smoking and these health warnings are now being implemented across the world. Started in Canada, went onto Brazil, Thailand, now the European Union, United Kingdom and even in developing countries like Thailand and India, you see these pictorial warnings. But we cannot merely content ourselves by warning people against tobacco and expecting them that they would give up gradually. We have to accelerate the movement towards a tobacco-free century. And for this, we have been looking at what goals the WHO has set. And the WHO say it’s between 2010 and 2025 there should be a 30% reduction in tobacco consumption the world over. But some of the countries have been more ambitious. They’ve been looking at a 40% reduction and a 50% reduction. Some countries like Norway, New Zealand and others have said, between 2025 and 2040, they will bring down the consumption to less than 5%. They call it, the endgame for tobacco. So really we are looking at trying to accelerate the decline in tobacco consumption to levels lower than 5% when it ceases to be a norm and it is possible to regulate it away from society. So we can actually achieve a tobacco-free society by an endgame for tobacco, we just need to be more ambitious in our goals as well as more effective in our tobacco control measures. But we ought to not, not, not only look at tobacco as a threat to health; we now recognize tobacco is a threat to sustainable development. We have talked about one billion deaths like to happen in the 21st Century, but tobacco kills trees too. In order to cure tobacco leaf you have to burn wood. And for 300 cigarettes smoked anywhere someone, somewhere has killed a tree, because you have to burn wood. Also a modern cigarette manufacturing machine consumes about four miles of paper per hour because of the wrapping of cigarettes. So trees are harmed. We have air pollution because of secondhand smoke. Tobacco is a water intensive crop and can accentuate water insecurity. Four million hectares of arable land which could and should have been used for growing nutritious crops are now being wasted on a killer crop. So it’s a threat to food insecurity. Tobacco lands families in poverty because they’re consuming the resources that should have been used for economic welfare of their family on tobacco and they’re actually pushed into poverty each year because of that. So in a number of ways, tobacco is a threat to both health and sustainable development and that is why the United Nations is identifying it as an important component for action under the health goal, but also is looking at it under the sustainable development goals framework. So we recognize that tobacco is the number one public health threat as well as a major threat to economic and sustainable development in the 21st Century. If we do nothing, about one billion lives will be lost in the century because of tobacco. But if we act effectively, especially through tobacco taxes, through ban on smoking in public places and indoor work places, effective health warnings and then promote cessation among people who are already addicted to the habit, we can substantially bring down the number of deaths. And the world is now responding by not only setting goals of 30% reduction in tobacco consumption by 2030, or 2025, but is looking to a tobacco-free century by asking for an endgame for tobacco. And indeed, sustainable development in the 21st Century cannot become a reality unless we eliminate tobacco from the world within this century

Pedro Pereira Leite

Researcher and professor. He had his PhD. on museology in 2011, with the title “Muss-amb-ike Homeland: The commitment on musicological process”, that was published in 2011. In 2012 he finishes a Post-PhD Research on "Biographical Glances: The intersubjectivity poetry on museology, at Lusófona University (Lisbon). Presently he is working in his Post PhD. Research about: “Global Heritages" with the aims to build a network on local cognizance and memory manager has a tool to build the will of action in 3 different communities, linked by past communed heritages.” He works at CES. He participates on different Research network, presented papers in national and international conferences, and had published books on research subjects.

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OpenEdition sugere que esta publicação seja citada da seguinte forma:
Pedro Pereira Leite (18 de Maio de 2015). Non-Communicable Diseases II. Global Heritages. Recuperado em 21 de Julho de 2024 de

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