Smoking is a drag on world economy

A report led by the health campaign group the World Lung Foundation (WLF), claims that tobacco-related deaths have nearly tripled in the past decade and big tobacco firms are undermining public efforts that could save millions.

In the report, marking the tenth anniversary of its first Tobacco Atlas, the WLF and the American Cancer Society said if current trends continue, a billion people will die from tobacco use and exposure this century – one person every six seconds.

Tobacco has killed 50 million people in the last 10 years, and tobacco is responsible for more than 15% of all male deaths and 7% of female deaths, the new Tobacco Atlas report found.

Smoking costs the world 1 to 2 percent of its gross domestic product each year. The economic losses include direct and indirect costs such as healthcare spending for treating smoking-related illnesses and the value of lost productivity.

The fourth edition of the book Tobacco Atlas was launched in Singapore.

China is by far the world’s largest consumer of cigarettes, with 38 percent of them in 2009, and saw costs due to smoking more than quadruple to $28.9 billion between 2000 and 2008, the authors of the Tobacco Atlas said in the book.

“China has quite a problem because the tobacco industry is part of the government,” co-author Judith Mackay said, noting that Beijing’s move to raise tobacco taxes two years ago did not change the purchase price of cigarettes but merely manipulated the way taxes were paid to the government.

“China is in a process of change. It needs a little bit of the stick but quite a lot of encouragement to really take the process forward,” Mackay said.

The world’s most populous nation is one of the 174 countries to have signed and ratified the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

Some countries, including the United States and Argentina, have signed but not ratified, while Indonesia, Uzbekistan and Zimbabwe have done neither.

 

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