Smoking will kill 8m people a year by 2030, WHO study warns

 

The number of people who die from smoking is going to rise considerably in the coming years, according to a new report.

Tobacco use currently kills an estimated six million people worldwide every year - but by 2030, the World Health Organisation (WHO) believes this will increase to eight million.

The study also suggests that the global economy is losing at least $1tn (£820bn) a year because of the impact smoking has on productivity levels and health services.

More than 80% of smoking deaths occur in low and middle-income countries, where the number of smokers is continuing to rise.

The WHO claims most governments are failing to use cheap and effective tools which can reduce tobacco use and save lives, such as complete bans on tobacco marketing, prominent warning labels on cigarette packets and price increases.

Global revenues generated from tobacco taxes only stood at $269bn (£221bn) in 2013/14, it said, which is nowhere near enough to recoup the economic losses caused by smoking.

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

The WHO's report, produced in conjunction with the US National Cancer Institute, said: "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."

Its authors claimed that governments would be able to fund more expensive anti-smoking schemes, such as mass media campaigns and cessation treatments, if tobacco taxes were raised.

Within months, all cigarettes in the UK will be sold in standardised green packaging with large, explicit photographs which show the harmful effects of smoking.

Several tobacco-producing countries have opened a trade dispute against Australia, which first introduced the plain packaging rules and outlawed distinctive logos or colourful branding.

The World Trade Organisation is expected to rule on the complaint later this year.


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