Tobacco-Related Deaths Projected to Increase to 8 Million by 2030

By Dorri Olds 01/16/17

An extensive new report highlights the global impact that tobacco makes on the economy and mortality rate. 

Hand holding lit cigarette.

“Tobacco use remains one of the world’s leading causes of preventable premature death,” says a massive report published last week by the U.S. National Cancer Institute (NCI) and World Health Organization (WHO).

The nearly 700-page report, “The Economics of Tobacco and Tobacco Control,” was authored by an international consortium of more than 60 experts on tobacco control and policy including physicians, public health experts, researchers and scientists. It was also peer-reviewed by more than 70 reviewers.

WHO has estimated that six million people die each year from tobacco use, including 600,000 who die from exposure to secondhand smoke. 

The report states that unless strong tobacco control measures are put in place, the number of tobacco-related direct and indirect deaths is projected to increase to eight million by 2030, with more than 80% of these deaths expected to occur in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).

Oleg Chestnov, WHO’s assistant director-general for non-communicable diseases and mental health, stated in a press release, “The tobacco industry produces and markets products that kill millions of people prematurely, rob households of finances that could have been used for food and education, and impose immense healthcare costs on families, communities and countries.” 

The research determined that globally, there are 1.1 billion tobacco smokers aged 15 or older, with 80% living in LMICs. Approximately 226 million smokers live in poverty, according to the press release. 

Due to technological advances and a shift from state-owned to privately-owned tobacco manufacturing, the number of jobs that depend on tobacco has been falling in most countries. The report said, “For the vast majority of countries, implementation of tobacco control measures will have only a modest impact on tobacco-related employment, and will not lead to net job losses.”

The report also said, “Significant tobacco tax and price increases are the most cost-effective of these interventions. Despite the considerable revenues generated by tobacco taxes, few governments are investing more than a fraction of these revenues in tobacco control or in other health programs.”

In the U.S., smoking has declined to an all-time low of 15.1%, but there is more that can be done to save lives. The report emphasized the need for more graphic warning labels and the need to further tighten restrictions on tobacco marketing.

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Dorri Olds is an award-winning writer whose work has appeared in many publications including The New York Times, Marie Claire, Woman’s Day and several book anthologies. Find Dorri on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.