Friday July 19, 2019

Smoking costs Global economy more than $1 Trillion a year, will kill one-third more people by 2030 than it does now: Study

That cost far outweighs global revenues from tobacco taxes, which the WHO estimated at about $269 billion in 2013-2014

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FILE - Cigarette packs are seen on shelves in a tobacco shop in Cagnes-sur-Mer, France, VOA

Smoking costs the global economy more than $1 trillion a year, and will kill one-third more people by 2030 than it does now, according to a study by the World Health Organization and the U.S. National Cancer Institute published on Tuesday.

That cost far outweighs global revenues from tobacco taxes, which the WHO estimated at about $269 billion in 2013-2014.

“The number of tobacco-related deaths is projected to increase from about 6 million deaths annually to about 8 million annually by 2030, with more than 80 percent of these occurring in LMICs [low- and middle-income countries],” the study said.

Around 80 percent of smokers live in such countries, and although smoking prevalence was falling among the global population, the total number of smokers worldwide is rising, it said.

Health experts say tobacco use is the single biggest preventable cause of death globally.

“It is responsible for… likely over $1 trillion in health care costs and lost productivity each year,” said the study, peer-reviewed by more than 70 scientific experts.

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The economic costs are expected to continue to rise, and although governments have the tools to reduce tobacco use and associated deaths, most have fallen far short of using those tools effectively, said the 688-page report.

“Government fears that tobacco control will have an adverse economic impact are not justified by the evidence. The science is clear; the time for action is now.”

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How to quit

Cheap and effective policies included hiking tobacco taxes and prices, comprehensive smoke-free policies, complete bans on tobacco company marketing, and prominent pictorial warning labels.

Tobacco taxes could also be used to fund more expensive interventions such as anti-tobacco mass media campaigns and support for cessation services and treatments, it said.

Governments spent less than $1 billion on tobacco control in 2013-2014, according to a WHO estimate.

Tobacco regulation meanwhile is reaching a crunch point because of a trade dispute brought by Cuba, Indonesia, Honduras and Dominican Republic against Australia’s stringent “plain packaging” laws, which enforce standardized designs on tobacco products and ban distinctive logos and colorful branding.

The World Trade Organization is expected to rule on the complaint this year. Australia’s policy is being closely watched by other countries that are considering similar policies, including Norway, Slovenia, Canada, Singapore, Belgium and South Africa, the study said. (VOA)

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Banning e-cigarettes But Not Tobacco is Contradictory: Industry

Studies conducted by Public Health England, Cancer Research UK and the Royal College of Physicians have observed “that vaping is at least 95 per cent less harmful than smoking and is of negligible risk to bystanders,” she said

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FILE - A customer exhales vapor from an e-cigarette at a store in New York, Feb. 20, 2014. VOA

Even as Gujarat on Wednesday joined an increasing number of states banning e-cigarettes, a country-wide association of importers, distributors, and marketers of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) device have called upon the Union Health Ministry not to rush into a national ban unilaterally without examining the facts and consulting stakeholders.

The association, Trade Representatives of ENDS in India (TRENDS), found it ironical that several states and even the Centre were considering a ban on e-cigarettes while actual tobacco, cigarette and beedi sales was officially open, though these products were proven to be severely injurious to health.

Praveen Rikhy, convener of TRENDS asserted in a memorandum submitted to the Union Health Ministry that, “Asking for a ban on e-cigarettes and not cigarettes or beedis would mean asking for a ban on a less harmful nicotine delivery system while allowing a more harmful one free market availability”.

“This is fundamentally unsustainable as a policy or a public health imperative or even in law and consumer rights. This is also in stark contrast and regressive when compared with the fact that developed economies are regulating ENDS and many see the category as complementary to their tobacco control goals,” she added.

Rikhy went on, “Today, all G7 countries and 34 out of 36 OECD countries have regulated and formalised sale, distribution, marketing and manufacture of ENDS”.

“A ban will end up opening up the black market and create room for substandard unregulated products. It would be of utmost importance to the Health Ministry to not be seen as creating such a market scenario”, she added.

The association on Tuesday evening made a submission to this effect to Secretary of Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare with a copy to Union Health Minister Harshvardhan. It said the concerns were based on recent media reports suggesting that the Drugs Technical Advisory Board (DTAB) was likely to move a proposal to prohibit the manufacture, import, sale and distribution of ENDS, including e-cigarettes, as well as their import under Sections 26A and 10A of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940.

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FILE – An anti-tobacco warning is seen on a road divider on the outskirts of New Delhi, India, Nov. 4, 2016. VOA

The TRENDS stated that these devices were not “drugs” as they are not promoted or intended to be of any therapeutic value. “They do not mitigate or prevent smoking but are an option for a habitual smoker who would like to switch to a non-combustible version.”

ENDS are micro-battery-powered devices, commonly known as e-cigarettes that simulate the sensation of smoking.

According to the association, during “the last few years, these products have emerged as a viable substitute to combustible cigarettes as they do not contain tobacco and do not involve combustion, and consequently, have significantly lower or negligible tobacco residue (commonly ‘tar’), carbon monoxide or other known carcinogens that are present in cigarette smoke.”

Rikhy said: “We believe that strong reasons exist for the government to re-examine its stand vis-à-vis ENDS. We would request the government to objectively consider the benefits and harms related to the product and initiate open consultation, which will help to better inform its decision for the ENDS category”.

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“We are also ethically committed not to market our products to minors and pregnant women and are ready to work with the Indian Government to ensure enforcement of legal purchase age and valid label warnings, training and awareness against harmful use.”

Studies conducted by Public Health England, Cancer Research UK and the Royal College of Physicians have observed “that vaping is at least 95 per cent less harmful than smoking and is of negligible risk to bystanders,” she said. (IANS)