21 September 2004

Smoking deaths to double

Smoking deaths in developing countries are on the increase as tobacco companies focus their advertising campaigns where few tobacco regulations exist.


The number of people dying from smoking-related diseases is increasing and smoking deaths in developing countries now equal the number of deaths in the industrialised world.

Nearly 5 million people died in the year 2000 from smoking-related diseases. One third of them died of heart disease and stroke. Almost a million died of lung cancer and more than a million of other lung diseases. Seventy-five percent of people who died from smoking-related diseases were men. The numbers in developing countries were as high as eighty percent. The number of smokers in the developing world is increasing.

Tobacco companies targeting developing nations
American Lung Association spokesman Paul Billings blames the "cynical marketing practices of the tobacco companies and the highly addictive nature of their product," for the rise in the number of smoking deaths in developing countries.

Study co-researcher Majid Ezzati, PhD, of Boston's Harvard School of Public Health, and colleague Alan Lopez, PhD, of the University of Queensland, Australia, made use of lung cancer death rates among non-smokers to estimate smoking deaths in developing nations. It is estimated that 930 million of the 1,1 billion smokers in the world live in developing nations. Their research findings are published in the September 12 issue of the journal The Lancet


There has been a dramatic increase in smoking deaths over the past decade, but both these researchers and the World Health Organization (WHO) predict a doubling of deaths in the next 20 to 30 years, despite the fact that the number of smokers in western countries is on the decline. But in many of the developing nations there are no or very few tobacco controls, and this is where many tobacco companies focus their advertising campaigns.

Asian men top the list of smokers – 70% of Chinese men smoke and according to Ezzati, the additional use of coal-burning stoves inside many Chinese homes is an additional risk factor for lung cancer.

Young girls smoking more
Despite the fact that in many developing countries, the majority of the smokers are men, there is a new disturbing trend revealed by the WHO at a conference in August: In both Africa and Southeast Asia, among teenagers between the ages of 13 – 15, the ratio of girls to boys who smoke is increasing rapidly. In Africa it is now as low as one to two.

Ezzati expressed his concern at the ability of developing countries to deal with the added burden of smoking-related diseases, and stressed that it was critical that this issue should be addressed. - (Health24)

Read more:
Smoking and heart disease
Smoking Real Life Story


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