Uncontrolled tobacco use will kill 8.4 million annually by 2020 – UN
Tobacco, already claiming the lives of 4.9 million people each year, will kill 8.4 million annually by 2020 unless drastic measures are taken in response, the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) said today as it released the Tobacco Atlas, a comprehensive volume detailing use of the substance and the struggle to control it in countries across the globe.
Half of today’s young smokers are expected to die of tobacco-related causes, according to WHO, while 70 per cent of those projected deaths will occur in developing countries. The agency is recommending use of the Atlas as a policy tool for formulating national and international regulations on tobacco control.
“The Tobacco Atlas highlights, in an educational and creative fashion, diverse features of this global epidemic,” said WHO Director-General Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland. She added that the document’s simple presentation of complex epidemiological and statistical information would allow readers to understand the facts and use them effectively.
Produced in collaboration with the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Tobacco Atlas employs colour maps and graphics to illustrates facts about tobacco use, including similarities between countries, the conduct of tobacco companies, gender differences, investments by the industry, the costs of tobacco use, litigation, and illicit trade.
The release of the Atlas comes as WHO member States are meeting in Geneva for the fifth round of negotiations on a proposed Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Delegates hope to complete a text of the treaty by May of next year.