Tobacco kills 7 million a year, wreaks environmental havoc

The United Nations agency called for the tobacco industry to compensate for its products that contribute to greenhouse gases blamed for climate change, but gave no estimate of damage.The ecological footprint goes far beyond the effects of cigarette smoke, the World Health Organization said in its first report on tobacco's impact on the environment.

The UN agency said tougher measures were needed to rein in tobacco use, urging countries to ban smoking in the workplace and indoor public spaces, outlaw marketing of tobacco products and hike cigarette prices.

"Tobacco threatens us all", says WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan.

WHOs first-ever report, which was released recently, on tobaccos environmental effect highlights the impact of the product on nature.

Tobacco waste contains over 7000 toxic chemicals that poison the environment, including human carcinogens.

Once in the hands of the consumer, tobacco smoke emissions spewed out thousands of tons of human carcinogens, toxic substances and greenhouse gases.

The global health body said there was evidence of "substantial and largely irreversible" loss of trees and other plant species caused by tobacco farming that make it a particular "threat" to biodiversity.

"Up to 10 billion of the 15 billion cigarettes sold daily are disposed in the environment".

"Around 860 million adult smokers live in low and middle-income countries".

Many studies have shown that in the poorest households, spending on tobacco products often represents more than 10% of total household expenditure - meaning less money for food, education and healthcare.

There are 14,800 deaths in Haryana every year due to tobacco-related diseases, said members of VoTV.

"Tobacco is a major barrier to development globally", says Dr. Douglas Bettcher, Director of WHO's Department for the Prevention on NCDs.

"These deaths mean the loss of breadwinners for so many families too", Madiba Youth Organisation Founder and Managing Director Mr Adam Sibuyi said at an event marking World No Tobacco Day, which falls tomorrow.

"Around 60 70 per cent of tobacco farm workers are women, putting them in close contact with often hazardous chemicals".

Governments collect almost $270 billion in tobacco tariffs annually, but, the report identified, this could increase by over 50 per cent, generating $141 billion more by globally raising cigarettes taxes by 80 cents per pack, or one global dollar.

The World No Tobacco Day will be observed in the country on Wednesday as elsewhere across the globe. But tobacco use is one of the largest preventable causes of noncommunicable diseases.

"On World No-Tobacco Day, we must pledge to continue our efforts to strengthen implementation of FCTC, to address tobacco's threat to public health and sustainable development", the Regional Director said. SDG target 3.4 is to reduce premature deaths from NCDs by one third by 2030, including cardiovascular and chronic respiratory diseases, cancers, and diabetes.

Singh added that by pursuing tobacco control measures, countries across the region are striving to advance public health at the same time as accelerating development. There are 180 Parties to the Convention.

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