World No Tobacco Day – May 31st

Tobacco and Heart Disease
May 31st marks the World Health Organization’s World No Tobacco Day (WNTD), highlighting the health and other risks associated with tobacco use, and advocating for effective policies to reduce tobacco consumption.

The focus of World No Tobacco Day 2018 is “Tobacco and heart disease.”

The campaign will increase awareness on the:
• link between tobacco and heart and other cardiovascular diseases (CVD), including stroke, which combined are the world’s leading causes of death;
• feasible actions and measures that key audiences, including governments and the public, can take to reduce the risks to heart health posed by tobacco.

How tobacco endangers the heart health of people worldwide

World No Tobacco Day 2018 will focus on the impact tobacco has on the cardiovascular health of people worldwide.

Tobacco use is an important risk factor for the development of coronary heart disease, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease.

Despite the known harms of tobacco to heart health, and the availability of solutions to reduce related death and disease, knowledge among large sections of the public that tobacco is one of the leading causes of CVD is low.

Facts about tobacco, heart and other cardiovascular diseases

Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) kill more people than any other cause of death worldwide, and tobacco use and second-hand smoke exposure contribute to approximately 12% of all heart disease deaths. Tobacco use is the second leading cause of CVD, after high blood pressure.

The global tobacco epidemic kills more than 7 million people each year, of which close to 900 000 are non-smokers dying from breathing second-hand smoke. Nearly 80% of the more than 1 billion smokers worldwide live in low- and middle-income countries, where the burden of tobacco-related illness and death is heaviest.

Key facts
• Tobacco kills up to half of its users.
• Tobacco kills more than 7 million people each year. More than 6 million of those deaths are the result of direct tobacco use while around 890 000 are the result of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke.
• Around 80% of the world’s 1.1 billion smokers live in low- and middle-income countries.

Leading cause of death, illness and impoverishment
The tobacco epidemic is one of the biggest public health threats the world has ever faced, killing more than 7 million people a year. More than 6 million of those deaths are the result of direct tobacco use while around 890 000 are the result of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke.
Around 80% of the 1.1 billion smokers worldwide live in low- and middle-income countries, where the burden of tobacco-related illness and death is heaviest. Tobacco users who die prematurely deprive their families of income, raise the cost of health care and hinder economic development.
In some countries, children from poor households are frequently employed in tobacco farming to provide family income. These children are especially vulnerable to “green tobacco sickness”, which is caused by the nicotine that is absorbed through the skin from the handling of wet tobacco leaves.

Second-hand smoke kills
Second-hand smoke is the smoke that fills restaurants, offices or other enclosed spaces when people burn tobacco products such as cigarettes, bidis and water-pipes. There are more than 4000 chemicals in tobacco smoke, of which at least 250 are known to be harmful and more than 50 are known to cause cancer.
There is no safe level of exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke.
• In adults, second-hand smoke causes serious cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, including coronary heart disease and lung cancer. In infants, it causes sudden death. In pregnant women, it causes low birth weight.
• Almost half of children regularly breathe air polluted by tobacco smoke in public places.
• Second-hand smoke causes more than 890 000 premature deaths per year.
• In 2004, children accounted for 28% of the deaths attributable to second-hand smoke.
Every person should be able to breathe tobacco-smoke-free air. Smoke-free laws protect the health of non-smokers, are popular, do not harm business and encourage smokers to quit.
Over 1.4 billion people, or 20% of the world’s population, are protected by comprehensive national smoke-free laws.

Tobacco users need help to quit
Studies show that few people understand the specific health risks of tobacco use. For example, a 2009 survey in China revealed that only 38% of smokers knew that smoking causes coronary heart disease and only 27% knew that it causes stroke.

Among smokers who are aware of the dangers of tobacco, most want to quit. Counselling and medication can more than double the chance that a smoker who tries to quit will succeed. National comprehensive cessation services with full or partial cost-coverage are available to assist tobacco users to quit in only 26 countries, representing 33% of the world’s population.

 

Source: World Health Organization. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/events/2018/world-no-tobacco-day/en/