Tobacco-related deaths have tripled in a decade

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The number of tobacco-related deaths has nearly tripled in the last decade, with death rates expected to rise further in low-to-middle income countries.

The World Lung Foundation (WLF) and American Cancer Society have released new figures to mark the tenth anniversary of their first Tobacco Atlas. The new report shows that tobacco has been the cause of death for 50 million people in the last decade: 15 per cent of all male and 7 per cent of all female deaths.

The WLF criticised the tobacco industry for capitalising on general ignorance about the impact of smoking on health. In collaboration with the 170 countries that signed-up to the World Health Organization (WHO) anti-smoking convention, the WLF is committed to combatting smoking with anti-smoking policies of plain packaging, restricting advertising, providing health warnings on packets and banning smoking in public places to limit exposure to second-hand smoke.

Although smoking rates in the developing world are declining, these numbers are increasing in poorer regions. Michael Eriksen, one of the report’s authors and director of the Institute for Public Health at Georgia State University, summarised ‘if we don’t act, the projections for the future are even more morbid. And the burden of death caused by tobacco is increasingly one of the developing world, particularly Asia, the Middle East and Africa.’

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