Action to stamp out tobacco use can help countries prevent millions of people falling ill and dying from tobacco-related disease, combat poverty and, according to a first-ever WHO report, reduce large-scale environmental degradation.
The report on 30 MAY 2017, states that ‘tobacco use kills more than 7 million people every year and costs households and governments over US$ 1.4 trillion through healthcare expenditure and lost productivity.’
“Around 860 million adult smokers live in low- and middle-income countries. Many studies have shown that in the poorest households, spending on tobacco products often represents more than 10% of total household expenditure, meaning less money for food, education and healthcare.”
The report also states that tobacco farming stops children attending school. 10%–14% of children from tobacco-growing families miss class because of working in tobacco fields; that 60%–70% of tobacco farm workers are women, putting them in close contact with often hazardous chemicals; and that tobacco contributes to 16% of all noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) deaths.
“Tobacco threatens us all,” says WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan. “Tobacco exacerbates poverty, reduces economic productivity, contributes to poor household food choices, and pollutes indoor air.”
Dr Chan, however, notes that ‘by taking robust tobacco control measures, governments can safeguard their countries’ futures by protecting tobacco users and non-users from these deadly products, generating revenues to fund health and other social services, and saving their environments from the ravages tobacco causes.’
Tobacco scars the environment
The first-ever WHO report, Tobacco and its environmental impact: an overview, also shows the impact of this product on nature, including – – Tobacco waste contains over 7000 toxic chemicals that poison the environment, including human carcinogens. – Tobacco smoke emissions contribute thousands of tons of human carcinogens, toxicants, and greenhouse gases to the environment. And tobacco waste is the largest type of litter by count globally. – Up to 10 billion of the 15 billion cigarettes sold daily are disposed in the environment. -Cigarette butts account for 30–40% of all items collected in coastal and urban clean-ups.
All countries have committed to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which aims to strengthen universal peace and eradicate poverty. Key elements of this agenda include implementing the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, and by 2030 reducing by one-third premature death from noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), including heart and lung diseases, cancer, and diabetes, for which tobacco use is a key risk factor.