Tobacco projected to kill 6 million and drain $500 billion from global economy each year, more than 80 percent of deaths in low- and middle-resource countries.
The World Lung Foundation and the American Cancer Society published The Tobacco Atlas, Third Edition and released an online version of the document at TobaccoAtlas.org on March 9. This comprehensive volume of research and its accompanying website graphically display how tobacco is devastating both global health and economies.
A $500 Billion Hole in Global Economy
According to The Tobacco Atlas, tobacco's estimated $500 billion drain on the world economy exceeds the total combined annual expenditure on health in all low-and middle-income countries. The economic costs come as a result of lost productivity, misused resources, ineffective taxation and premature death:
Because 25 percent of smokers die and many more become ill during their most productive years, income loss devastates families and communities.
Cigarettes are the world's most widely smuggled legal consumer product. In 2006, about 600 billion smuggled cigarettes made it to the market, representing an enormous missed tax opportunity for governments, as well as a missed opportunity to prevent many people from starting to smoke and encourage others to quit. A ten percent increase in cigarette prices reduces demand by up to five percent among adults, with even better results among young smokers.
Tobacco replaces potential food production on almost 4 million hectares of the world's agricultural land, equal to all of the world's orange groves or banana plantations.
In developing countries, smokers spend great sums of money in proportion to their incomes that could otherwise be spent on food, healthcare and other necessities.
Burden Shift to the World's Poorest Countries
The Tobacco Atlas crystallizes an undeniable trend: the tobacco industry has shifted its marketing and sales efforts to countries that have less effective public health policies and fewer resources in place:
In 2010, tobacco will kill six million people worldwide annually, 72 percent of whom will be in low and middle-income countries.
Since 1960 global tobacco production has increased 300 percent in low- and middle-resource countries while dropping more than 50 percent in high-resource countries.
In India and China together, over half a billion men are consuming tobacco.
In Bangladesh alone, if the average household bought food with the money normally spent on tobacco, more than 10 million people would no longer suffer from malnutrition and 350 children under age five could be saved each day.
"The Tobacco Atlas is crucial to understanding the nature of the most preventable global health epidemic," said John R. Seffrin, Ph.D. chief executive officer, American Cancer Society. "This single resource can help advocates in every nation get the knowledge they need to combat the scourge of tobacco in their communities and on the worldwide stage. By utilizing the information in The Tobacco Atlas to develop public health strategies to reduce tobacco use and help people stay well, we will save millions of lives. "
"Common throughout The Tobacco Atlas is vivid evidence that the health burden is shifting from high-income countries to their low and middle-income counterparts," said Peter Baldini, chief executive officer, World Lung Foundation." The evidence presented herein and online, however, must do more than clearly articulate the scope and dimensions of the problem. It should be applied actively to strengthen the case for policy change."
The four authors of the publication bring together an impressive array of credentials and unique experience. Omar Shafey, Ph.D., M.P.H., is a medical anthropologist and epidemiologist, and an adjunct professor of Global Health at Emory University. Among many publications and studies, he was a coauthor of the second edition of The Tobacco Atlas. Michael Eriksen, Sc.D., is a professor and founding director of the Institute of Public Health at Georgia State University. He has been a Senior Advisor to the World Health Organisation (WHO), and was director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Office on Smoking and Health. Hana Ross, Ph.D. is an economist and strategic director of international tobacco control research at the American Cancer Society. She is also deputy director of the International Tobacco Network (ITEN), a network promoting collaboration among economists interested in tobacco control issues. Judith Mackay. M.D., is a Fellow of the Royal Colleges of Physicians of Edinburgh and London, and a special advisor at World Lung Foundation. She is also a senior policy advisor to the World Health Organization (WHO) and a director of the Asian Consultancy on Tobacco Control.
The new online version of the publication, TobaccoAtlas.org, enables policy makers, public health practitioners, advocates and journalists interact with the data and create customizable charts, graphs and maps.
Materials provided by American Cancer Society. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
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