'Tobacco Epidemic' Could Kill 1 Billion in 21st Century


Only 86 of 193 countries surveyed have recent data on tobacco use for both adults and youths. Seventy-four countries still allow smoking in health care institutions and about the same number allow smoking in schools. And more than half the countries, with two-thirds of the world's population, allow smoking in government offices and workplaces, the report said.

Only two countries - Uruguay and New Zealand - had both comprehensive smoke-free laws and high enforcement, it said.

For the tobacco industry to survive, and keep existing customers hooked and attract new customers, "it spends tens of billions of dollars a year on advertising, promotion and sponsorship," WHO said.

One of the most effective ways to curb tobacco use is to ban all forms of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, but it said only 20 of 179 countries that responded have complete bans.

While many tobacco users want to quit, they are unable to because of their addiction to nicotine, and "the vast majority of countries" provide no help, the report said. Only nine countries, accounting for 5 percent of the world's population, offer a full range of treatment and at least partial financial subsidies to help people trying to quit, it said.

"Weak health warnings on tobacco packs - or no warnings at all - continue to be the global norm," the report added, noting that only 15 of 176 countries surveyed required picture warnings which are most effective.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

  • 1
  • |
  • 2
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...