World Health Organization ramps up war on tobacco (video included)

Phillip Morris International

The global tobacco epidemic kills more than 7 million people each year, of which close to nine lakh are non-smokers dying from breathing second-hand smoke.

WHILE the link between smoking and a range of cancers is well known, the World Health Organization warned Thursday there was too little awareness of tobacco's impact on the human heart.

As the world marks the World No Tobacco Day, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said the total number of smokers worldwide has decreased by about 29 million since 2000, and expressed optimism that that it will reach the 2025 target of a 30 per cent reduction.

Dr Kyaw Kan Kaung, director of the Department of Public Health for Non-Communicable Diseases, told The Myanmar Times that the government will further intensify measures to control tobacco use and sale.

The health secretary said ischemic heart diseases or the hardening of arteries continues to be the leading cause of death in the country with at least 74,000 cases recorded in 2016.

Despite all efforts at tobacco control, w.h.o says annually, the substance costs households and governments over $1.4 trillion, an equivalent of about 504 trillion Naira.

He said: 'Most people know that using tobacco causes cancer and lung disease, but many people aren't aware that tobacco also causes heart disease and stroke.

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The global health agency, in the report by health experts, said spreading the message that tobacco caused deadly illnesses such as heart disease and stroke helped prevent "needless" loss of life. Over a million deaths are caused by second hand smoking.

China has the highest number: of its population of 1.3 billion, about 315 million are smokers and they consume more than a third of the world's cigarettes, the WHO said in a report previous year.

These include making indoor public and workplaces smoke-free and insisting that tobacco packaging carries warnings that demonstrate the health risks for users.

One in four men and one in 20 women smoked daily in 2015, down from one in three men and one in 12 women in 1990, it found.

The study did not directly compare the risk of e-cigarettes to tobacco cigarettes, but the researchers said the results suggest that those who use e-cigs may be at higher risk of lung infection than people who do not use the devices. The group, comprising the Environmental Rights Action and Friends of the Earth (ERA/FoEN), Cedars Foundation, Gatefield, Smoke-free Club UniAbuja and other youth groups, called on government to enforce the ban on smoking in public places. About 4 per cent of children aged 13-15 years (13 million) use smokeless tobacco products.

Developing countries: Over 80% of tobacco smokers live in low- and middle-income countries (LMICS).

"What we have done in terms of our overall policy is we've made some revisions to it recently", he adds.

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