WHO: Nearly 6M will Die this Year Due to Tobacco Epidemic

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that tobacco use will kill nearly six million people this year. More than five million of them will be users and ex-users of smoked and smokeless tobacco, while more than 600,000 will be nonsmokers who are exposed to secondhand smoke.

Based on WHO estimates, tobacco could kill eight million people a year by 2030.
Thus, in an effort to reduce the number of cigarette smokers worldwide, the WHO urged more countries to require large, graphic health warnings on tobacco packaging.

In its 2011 global tobacco epidemic report, the WHO said large, graphic health warnings on cigarette packs are proven to motivate people to stop using tobacco and to reduce the appeal for people who are not yet addicted to it.

Tobacco use is one of the biggest contributors to the noncommunicable diseases epidemic, which includes heart disease, stroke, cancers and emphysema, and accounts for 63 percent of deaths, the WHO reported.

Nineteen countries are now covered by laws requiring graphic warnings on packages of tobacco. Peru, Mexico and the United States were the latest countries to require graphic warnings on cigarette packs.

“Large, graphic health warnings of the sort pioneered by Uruguay, Canada and a handful of other countries are an effective means of reducing tobacco’s appeal,” Dr. Douglas Bettcher, director of WHO’s Tobacco Free Initiative, said in a statement.

WHO reported that 23 countries have implemented at least one strong anti-tobacco campaign in the last two years. WHO Assistant Director-General for Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health Dr. Ala Alwan said the WHO is pleased that more and more people are being adequately warned about the dangers of tobacco use.

“At the same time, we can’t be satisfied that the majority of countries are doing nothing nor not enough,” Alwan said in a statement. “We urge all countries to follow the best practices for reducing tobacco consumption and to become Parties to, and fully implement, the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.”

Among the demand-reduction measures the WHO laid out for the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control are the following:

Requiring large, graphic health warnings;
Monitoring tobacco use;
Protecting people from tobacco smoke;
Helping users quit;
Enforcing bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship; and
Raising taxes on tobacco.

PHL situation

But in the Philippines, the Health Department’s move to require graphic health warnings on cigarette packs has been met with opposition by the tobacco industry, which sought to block the implementation of the DOH administrative order (AO) in May 2010.

Several tobacco companies questioned the administrative order before lower courts, and a preliminary injunction was issued against the printing of graphic warnings on cigarette packs. DOH has also filed motions to dismiss the filed cases in the respective courts.

Two companies have secured a preliminary injunction against the AO, while one case has been dismissed, said Dr. Maricar Limpin, executive director of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Alliance Philippines.

Limpin said the cases are still ongoing, but due to the TRO, the DOH cannot disclose any more information about the cases as of posting time.

Earlier this year, five former DOH chiefs filed an intervention case with the Supreme Court, asking the high court to validate the DOH AO. Former Health chiefs Esperanza Cabral, Francisco Duque III, Alberto Romuladez, Jaime Galvez-Tan and Alfredo Bengzon said they felt the need to intervene after injunction orders were issued in favor of the cigarette manufacturers.

(source: Yahoo News)
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