Smokers spent $700 billion on cigarettes in 2017, says WHO

Updated - April 11, 2019 01:22 am IST

Published - April 10, 2019 11:03 pm IST

Cigarette butts are the most common form of anthropogenic litter and constituted a significant proportion of the total litter in the world – but they often go unnoticed.

Cigarette butts are the most common form of anthropogenic litter and constituted a significant proportion of the total litter in the world – but they often go unnoticed.

Global cigarette sales in 2017 stood at $700 billion, the World Health Organisation (WHO) tweeted, highlighting the fact that the amount was 250 times more than what the international organisation needed to protect human health.

“This is what people spend every year on health-destroying products. It’s like paying to die and is 250 times more than what World Health Organisation (WHO) needs to protect and promote the most precious commodity on earth — human health,’’ it said in a Twitter post on tobacco abuse worldwide.

Six million deaths

WHO noted that tobacco is the only legal drug that kills many of its users when used exactly as intended by manufacturers.

It is estimated that tobacco use (smoking and smokeless) is currently responsible for the death of about six million people across the world each year with many of these deaths occurring prematurely.

In India, where the mean age at initiation to daily smoking is 18.7 years, the total tax revenue collected from tobacco products is more than ₹34,000 crore annually. Doctors warn that the early age of starting tobacco abuse translates into an increased risk of heart disease in younger people.

“Worldwide, a total 6,00,000 people are also estimated to die from the effects of second-hand smoke,” WHO said. “Although often associated with ill-health, disability and death from non-communicable chronic diseases, tobacco smoking is also associated with an increased risk of death from communicable diseases,’’ it added.

Reduces risk

According to information released by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), quitting tobacco abuse immediately reduces the risk of heart attack and/or stroke. This helps even if a person has already had a heart attack and/or stroke, irrespective of his/her age.

Smokeless tobacco

“Despite accounting for 17% of the world population, tobacco consumption in the form of cigarettes in India is less than 2% of global consumption,” notes the Tobacco Institute of India (TII), a representative body of farmers, manufacturers, exporters, etc. “However, India accounts for 84% of the world’s consumption of smokeless tobacco while accounting for low per capita consumption of cigarettes,’’ it adds.

Among young people, the short-term health consequences of smoking include respiratory and non-respiratory effects, addiction to nicotine and the associated risk of other drug use. Long-term health consequences of youth smoking are reinforced by the fact that most young people who smoke regularly continue to smoke through adulthood. Also cigarette smokers have a lower level of lung function than those persons who have never smoked, noted WHO.

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