The Tobacco Problem
Tobacco use is one of the biggest public health threats the world has ever faced and is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States.
Every year, smoking and second-hand smoke kill about 440,000 people in the U.S. by causing lung cancer, emphysema, heart disease and other illnesses. Nearly 21 percent of adults still smoke, as do 23 percent of high school students. Every day, another 1,500 kids become daily smokers. One-third of them will die prematurely as a result.
Worldwide, tobacco use claims nearly five million lives a year and is projected to kill one billion people this century unless current trends are reversed. However, if adult smoking rates are cut by 50 percent worldwide, we could prevent more than 300 million deaths within the next 50 years
Tobacco key facts
- There are more than one billion smokers in the world.
- 100 million deaths were caused by tobacco in the 20th century. If current trends continue, there will be up to one billion deaths in the 21st century.
- Globally, use of tobacco products is increasing, although it is decreasing in high-income countries.
- The epidemic is shifting to the developing world.
- More than 80% of the world's smokers live in low - and middle-income countries.
- Almost half of the world's children breathe air polluted by tobacco smoke.
- Second-hand smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals, including at least 69 known carcinogens, and causes tens of thousands of deaths each year.
- Tobacco use kills 5.4 million people a year - an average of one person every six seconds - and accounts for one in 10 adult deaths worldwide.
- Tobacco kills up to half of all users.
- It is a risk factor for six of the eight leading causes of deaths in the world.
Because there is a lag of several years between when people start using tobacco and when their health suffers, the epidemic of disease and death has just begun.
Unchecked, tobacco-related deaths will increase to more than eight million a year by 2030, and 80% of those deaths will occur in the developing world.
Reference available online at: http://www.who.int/topics/tobacco/facts/en/index.html