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Despite protective measures: seven million deaths from smoking every year


Tobacco use continues to kill millions every year
Smoking remains the leading preventable cause of death in the world. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), measures to combat tobacco use are starting to show signs of success, but seven million people worldwide still die each year as a result. The WHO therefore appeals to governments to further intensify prevention work - and above all criticizes the rich countries for not doing enough.

Anti-smoking programs work
The measures against smoking appear to be having an effect on the current WHO report on the global tobacco epidemic. Still, tobacco use remains the leading preventable cause of death, killing more than seven million people every year. “It's like annihilating the entire population of Bulgaria or Paraguay every year. This is unacceptable, ”said WHO Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus according to the news agency "dpa" when the report was published in New York on Wednesday.

More than half of the world's population is reached
According to a current WHO announcement, around 4.7 billion people - and thus 63% of the world's population - would be affected by at least one measure, such as the warnings on cigarette boxes, advertising or smoking bans in the workplace. The poorer countries in particular have made great strides in the introduction of anti-smoking measures recently. Richer countries, on the other hand, sometimes lack "political will," said Douglas Bettcher of the WHO. Accordingly, governments around the world are urged to step up work to protect the population.

Shock photos on cigarette packs are common
According to the report, the greatest reach is given by warnings and deterrent pictures on the cigarette packs. These are compulsory in 78 countries (e.g. India and Bangladesh) and, with 3.5 billion people, make up almost half of the world's population (47%). Across the EU, the shock photos and warnings have had to appear on the boxes since May 2016. In addition to this, the WHO Tobacco Framework Convention lays down a number of other preventive measures. For example, bans on tobacco advertising, protection against passive smoking and the increase in taxes on tobacco products.

Only in two EU countries is there a complete ban on advertising
According to the WHO, the number of developing countries that have introduced a complete ban on smoking in the workplace has increased from 4 to 39 in the past ten years. 24 imposed advertising bans during the same period. In Germany, on the other hand, there is a lot of catching up to do, because EU-wide there is currently no complete ban on advertising here and in Bulgaria. There is still a lot to do in other rich countries too - in the United States, for example, there are still no clear warnings on the boxes.

"One in ten deaths worldwide is caused by tobacco," said WHO Global Ambassador for Noncommunicable Diseases Michael R. Bloomberg. But this can be changed through tobacco control measures. "The progress that has been made worldwide - and documented in this report - shows that countries can reverse the trend," the former New York Mayor added.

Governments must also fight the illegal tobacco trade
Although the tobacco industry is still hampering the fight against smoking in many areas, governments still need to take countermeasures, Ghebreyesus said. No time should be wasted in integrating the provisions of the WHO Framework Convention into national tobacco control programs. "Governments must also curb illegal tobacco trafficking, which is exacerbating the global tobacco epidemic and the associated health and socioeconomic ramifications," said the WHO Director-General.

Ghebreyesus adds: "Together, countries can prevent millions of people from dying from preventable tobacco-related diseases each year and saving billions of dollars a year from avoidable health care costs and lost productivity." (No)

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