Tobacco facts

August 3, 2015

Tobacco use is one of the main risk factors for a number of chronic diseases, including cancer, lung diseases, and cardiovascular diseases. Despite this, it is common throughout the world. A number of countries have legislation restricting tobacco advertising, and regulating who can buy and use tobacco products, and where people can smoke.

  • Tobacco kills up to half of its users.
  • Tobacco kills around 6 million people each year. More than 5 million of those deaths are the result of direct tobacco use while more than 600 000 are the result of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke.
  • Nearly 80% of the world’s 1 billion smokers live in low- and middle-income countries.

Leading cause of death, illness and impoverishment

The tobacco epidemic is one of the biggest public health threats the world has ever faced, killing around 6 million people a year. More than 5 million of those deaths are the result of direct tobacco use while more than 600 000 are the result of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke.

Nearly 80% of the more than 1 billion smokers worldwide live in low- and middle-income countries, where the burden of tobacco-related illness and death is heaviest.

Tobacco users who die prematurely deprive their families of income, raise the cost of health care and hinder economic development.

(Source : WHO)

Seven out of ten smokers in developed countries say they regret starting and would like to give up.

Tobacco Harm Reduction (THR)

Tobacco harm reduction is a public health strategy to lower the health risks associated with using nicotine, as an example of the concept of harm reduction, a strategy for dealing with the abuse of other drugs. Smoking tobacco is widely acknowledged as a leading cause of illness and death. However, nicotine itself is not very harmful, as inferred from the long history of use for nicotine replacement therapy products. Thus, THR measures have been focused on reducing or eliminating the use of combustible tobacco by switching to other nicotine products, including:

  1. Cutting down (either long-term or before quitting smoking)
  2. Temporary abstinence
  3. Switching to non-tobacco nicotine containing products, such as pharmaceutical nicotine replacement therapies or currently (generally) unlicensed products such as electronic cigarettes
  4. Switching to smokeless tobacco products such as Swedish snus
  5. Switching to non-combustible organic or additive-free tobacco products

It is widely acknowledged that discontinuation of all tobacco products confers the greatest lowering of risk. However, approved smoking cessation methods, because people don’t use them that much, have a 90% failure rate. In addition, there is a considerable population of smokers who are unable or unwilling to achieve abstinence. Harm reduction is likely of substantial benefit to these smokers and public health. Providing reduced-harm alternatives to smokers is likely to result in lower total population risk than pursuing abstinence-only policies.

(Source : Wikipedia)

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