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Smoking kills 7 million people each year, says WHO - Almost double the death toll recorded in 2000 and will lead to a billion deaths by the end of this century

Published:Tuesday | May 30, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Smoking kills

Almost double the death toll recorded in 2000 and will lead to a billion deaths by the end of this century

Smoking now kills seven million people a year - almost double the number recorded in 2000, the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned.

The startling figures show that tobacco use is now the leading cause of preventable deaths across the world, ahead of obesity.

And experts stress the death toll is only going to keep on rising without tougher laws and regulations on cigarettes in developing countries, where 80 per cent of lives are lost due to smoking.

However, they claim hiking cigarette prices would help to combat the problem, encouraging people to give up the costly addiction.

In a report released yesterday, the United Nations agency said it is bracing itself for more than one billion tobacco-related deaths by the end of this century.

The notoriously bad habit, which is known to cause heart disease and lung cancer, 'threatens us all', according to WHO chief Margaret Chan.

She said: "Tobacco exacerbates poverty, reduces economic productivity, contributes to poor household food choices, and pollutes indoor air."

WHO assistant director-general Oleg Chestnov added: "One of the least used, but most effective tobacco control measures... is through increasing tobacco tax and prices."

Its new report suggests the true scale of deaths is worse than previously thought, with most of its estimates to be nearer the six million mark.

It showed that around 890,000 of the total deaths are caused by being exposed to second-hand smoke - which can cause stroke in adults and sudden infant death syndrome in children alongside the other health risks of tobacco.




Just last month an international study published in prestigious medical journal The Lancet found smoking killed 6.4 million people in 2016.

This made it the second biggest killer on the planet - contradicting the new warning released ahead of World Tobacco No Day.

The WHO has previously said that cigarettes will kill a third more people by 2030 than it does currently due to global rates of smokers continuing to rise.

WHO estimates that smoking costs more than US$1.4 trillion (PS1.1 trillion) in terms of healthcare costs and lost productivity. This is the equivalent to nearly two per cent of global gross domestic product (GDP).