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  • Writer's pictureKRISHNENDU KUNDU

Worldwide Tobacco use Directly Causes 7 Million Deaths Annually

News Desk, News Nation 360 : World No Tobacco Day highlights the devastating impact of tobacco use on global health. Each year, tobacco causes over 8 million deaths, with half of its users dying prematurely. This includes 1.3 million non-smokers who die from secondhand smoke exposure. The burden is particularly heavy in low- and middle-income countries, where 80% of the world's 1.3 billion tobacco users reside. Tobacco use exacerbates poverty by diverting resources from necessities towards tobacco products and creates a significant economic strain due to healthcare costs and loss of productivity. Effective tobacco control policies are crucial, and regular tobacco use surveys provide vital data for public health programs. Protecting people from secondhand smoke is also essential, as it causes roughly 1.3 million deaths annually due to lung cancer, heart disease, and respiratory illnesses. Thankfully, almost 74 countries have implemented comprehensive smoke-free laws, safeguarding 25% of the global population from secondhand smoke's dangers. In addition to smoke-free laws, various strategies can be employed to combat the tobacco epidemic. Raising taxes on tobacco products can deter use, particularly among young people who are often more price-sensitive. Public awareness campaigns can educate the public about the dangers of tobacco and the benefits of quitting. Banning tobacco advertising and promotion can limit the tobacco industry's influence and prevent it from glamorizing tobacco use. Furthermore, providing smoking cessation programs and counselling services can significantly support individuals seeking to quit tobacco. By implementing these comprehensive strategies, we can create a tobacco-free world and protect future generations from its devastating consequences. As many smokers want to stop because they are aware of the health risks, Dr. Arindam Mukherjee, a pulmonologist at Apollo Multispeciality Hospitals in Kolkata, insists that "supporting tobacco users to quit is vital." The likelihood of successfully quitting can be more than doubled with counselling and medication. However, only 32 nations—roughly one-third of the global population—offer comprehensive cessation services. Mass media campaigns and pictorial health warnings are also very important in discouraging tobacco use and promoting quitting. More than half of the world's population resides in nations that uphold the best practices for graphic health warnings, and 1.5 billion people reside in nations that have just launched aggressive media campaigns against tobacco use. Strong anti-tobacco initiatives are desperately needed, as the situation in India shows. The Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) from 2016–17 found that 28.6% of Indian adults use tobacco, with men using it in smoked or smokeless form at 42.4% and women using it in smokeless form at 14.2%. This high prevalence highlights the need for all-encompassing policies to address tobacco use in the nation.

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