In observance of World No Tobacco Day on March 31, the World Health Organisation (WHO) warned the governments of the world of an epidemic waiting at their doorsteps.
The WHO warned that tobacco will kill nearly six million people this year, because governments are not doing enough to persuade people to quit or protect others from second-hand smoke. Moreover since the affects of fatal tobacco related diseases shows its symptoms in a person many years after the initiation of smoking, the annual death toll could very much reach 8 million by 2030.
If current trends persist, tobacco could cause up to a billion deaths in the 21st century as compared to the 100 million deaths it caused in the 20th century, added WHO.
Worldwide each year, tobacco users mostly die from heart disease, stroke, cancer and emphysema. After high blood pressure, tobacco consumption is the biggest contributor to the epidemic of non-communicable diseases. Additionally, smokers become more susceptible to communicable diseases like tuberculosis and pneumonia.
Tobacco epidemic kills nearly six million people every year globally, of which more than five million are users and ex-users. More than 600,000 are non smokers exposed to second-hand smoking. In India, every year nearly 10 lakh people die due to tobacco related disease like cancer, cardiovascular problems etc.
While studies in the United States show that the smoking rate in persons above 18 years dropped to an estimated 20.5 per cent in 2008, nearly half from 42 % in 1965, but in India overall smoking rate has increased from 37.4 per cent to 40.6%.
According to international agency for research tobacco, there are total 43 carcinogenic agents found in tobacco smoke including addicting substances like nicotine.
Experts however point out that oral smokeless tobacco is the dominant form of tobacco used in India which is also one of the five leading causes of cancer. India has a high incidence of oral cancer, accounting for one-third of the world's burden.
Most commonly, tobacco is added to paan, a betel quid mixture. Here, Areca nut, a common component of betel quid, contains the alkaloid drugs arecoline, muscarine and pilocarpine, which in small doses can produce calming and sometimes mildly stimulating effects.
The incorporation of tobacco into paan increases its addiction potential and contributes to its adverse health effects, which includes several forms of cancer and various dental diseases.
Cigarettes, bidi, gutka, paan have widely attracted youngsters, both men women in many countries most of which are developing nations.
In the low-income group countries, where heath insurance is scarce or non-existent, the direct healthcare costs are frequently borne entirely by families. The economic impact of early death, disability and lost productivity contributes to the burden of poverty and retards national development.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has called for "tougher laws and enforcement" that will prevent premature deaths from tobacco-related diseases, according to a statement released on the eve of the World No Tobacco Day.
The United Nations health body urged more governments to sign up to and implement its tobacco control treaty. As per WHO data, tobacco use is growing fastest in low and middle-income countries. By 2030, more than 80% of the world's tobacco-related deaths will be in these countries.
WHO has called on the governments and stakeholders worldwide to use the provisions of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) as the basis for laws for a “100 percent ban on indoor smoking, comprehensive bans on advertising, promotion and sponsorship, bans on sale to minors, graphic health warnings and higher prices and taxes for tobacco products”.
So far, 172 countries and the European Union have signed up to the WHO FCTC, which came into force in 2005.