Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death in the world and according to the World Health Organisation if current trends continue tobacco use will cause one billion deaths worldwide during this century. China will be one of the most adversely affected regions.
Yesterday (THURSDAY) the American Cancer Society (ACS) and World Lung Foundation released the Chinese language version of the Tobacco Atlas revealing that the government-owned Chinese National Tobacco Corporation and its sales account for one-third of the global market.
According to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey in China, 300 million people, including nearly 53 percent of Chinese men, are smokers. The country consumes more than 37 percent of the world’s cigarettes which translates into one in every three cigarettes being smoked in China.
According to the Tobacco Atlas, tobacco use costs China U$5-billion per year in healthcare expenditure, employee absenteeism, reduced labour productivity, lost tax opportunities, and premature death.
Professor Judith Mackay, the lead author of the Tobacco Atlas said the publication had ‘an awful lot of bad news’ in it, including the fact that in spite of between 50 and 60 years of action and knowledge there was still massive prevalence. The good news was that there were now many more systems in place to control tobacco.
Mackay said that Asia was tackling the tobacco issue with countries such as Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan showing the way. In Japan smoking prevalence among men has come down from 80% in 1985 to 40%.
On the other side of the world in Africa, which is notably affected by HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other infectious diseases, cancer is emerging as a serious public health threat.
According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, much of the rise can be attributed to widespread tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke.
Several African countries are making progress in implementing smoke-free laws, but nearly 90 percent of people on the continent remain without meaningful protection from secondhand smoke.
‘Tobacco is the world’s biggest addiction problem, but I can say with certainty that we can save millions of lives. Tobacco kills an astonishing number of people and it will kill more than 600-million people alive today,’ said Dr John Seffrin, Chief Executive Officer of the ACS.