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600,000 People Die from Passive-Smoking Annually

Posted on Nov 26, 2010 by Sergio Ulloa ()

A recently report has found that nearly one in a hundred deaths worldwide are related to passive smoking, with the study estimating that 600,000 people die from second-hand smoking each year. The report by the World Health Organization (WHO) is one of the first global assessments of its kind looking into the affects of second-hand tobacco smoking. The results included in the report indicated that 165,000 children die each year due to a tobacco polluted environment. The WHO report - led by Annette Pruess-Ustuen of the WHO - shows that children are more exposed to second-hand smoking than any other age-group. The report was compiled based on data from 2004 - the most recent available - with figures covering 192 countries. The research reported that two-thirds of the deaths recorded occurred in Africa and South Asia. The assessment of the impact of passive smoking indicated that of people most affected, 40 percent were children, 35 percent were women and 33 percent men. A mathematical modeling technique was used to compile the results for the WHO sponsored study, with the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare and Bloomberg Philanthropies providing funding for the research programme. Of the people around the world who have died due to complications from second-hand smoke, 379,000 are estimated to have died from heart disease, while lower respiratory infections having caused 165,000 deaths, asthma causing a further 36,900 deaths and 21,400 from lung cancer. Children who are exposed to second-hand smoke are particularly vulnerable to disease and illness, which include pneumonia, asthma and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). In adults second-hand smoke can lead to serious cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, which include coronary heart disease and lung cancer. While passive smoking in pregnant women can contribute to a low birth weight of the baby. Deaths among children caused by second-hand smoking was mostly confined to poor and middle income countries, while deaths recorded within adult groups was spread across all countries. In high income countries within Europe, 71 child deaths were reported with adult deaths estimated to be above 35,300. Across the African continent, it was estimated that more than 43,000 children and 9,100 adult's deaths were due to the affects of passive-smoking. However, the total impact of tobacco related death's worldwide is estimated to be 5.7 million, when the 600,000 from passive smoking is added to the figure for deaths due to active smoking. There have been calls for countries to strengthen the enforcement of the WHO's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which highlights measures such as plain packaging of tobacco products, a ban on marketing and an increase in tax on tobacco products; it is thought that implementation of these measures would have a significant and positive effect on exposure to passive and active smoking. Research has shown that countries which put in place smoking bans in public places such as restaurants and bars see a significant decline in the levels exposure to second-hand smoke. It is also contended that when countries adopt anti-smoking regulations and ensure adherence to these, there can be abatement in the amount of cigarettes consumed by a smoker thus leading to a better chance of quitting the habit. Only 7.4 percent of the global population is estimated to be currently living in an area where there are comprehensive anti-smoking laws, and, in certain cases, the laws are not strictly enforced. The WHO have stated that the current trend in tobacco consumption is responsible for more than 5 million deaths a year, which could exceed 8 million deaths per year by 2030 if there is no reduction in tobacco consumption. Current data shows that there are over a billion smokers worldwide, with approximately 80 percent living in low and middle income countries. While the overall consumption of tobacco products is increasing globally, there has been a slight decline in some high and upper-middle income countries.
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