5 Million Deaths a Year Worldwide from Smoking Tobacco smoke is the world’s most lethal weapon of mass destruction.

The greatest cause of disease and death in every developed country and most developing countries is tobacco addiction. The World Health Organization estimates that tobacco addiction kills 5 million people worldwide each year, including more than 400,000 Americans. In effort to combat this worldwide plague, the World Health Organization (made up of 192 member countries) voted unanimously last week to adopt the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). The Convention urges countries to eliminate tobacco advertising, establish bigger/stronger warning labels, raise cigarette prices, and adopt smoke free workplace laws.

France announced that it is raising cigarette prices by 25% and will continue to do so until prices reach 7 euros ($8.40) per pack. Currently, cigarettes cost about 4 euros ($4.80) per pack. The last price hike resulted in a 10% decline in youth smoking. In addition new cigarette warning labels have gone into effect in Europe covering 1/3 of both the front and back of a pack of cigarettes. Canada and Brazil have strong picture based warning labels. Ireland and Norway have announced that restaurants and bars will be smoke free next year. Finland currently has smoke free casinos.

In the U.S., four entire states— CA, DE, NY, and CT– have gone totally smoke free (including restaurants, bars, and casinos). Hundreds of cities have also gone totally smoke free, including four of the most popular tourist destinations— New York, Los Angeles, Boston, and San Francisco. Canada and Australia continue to lead the world in smoke free workplace legislation.

In Japan the densely populated Chiyoda Ward went smoke free outdoors last year in response to growing complaints from residents about sidewalks and roads littered with cigarette butts and clothes being burned by cigarettes. Mayor Masami Ishikawa himself a smoker backed the ordinance, saying he believes it is no longer possible to rely on smokers to voluntarily stop throwing cigarette trash on the street.

Although there is much to be done, it is obvious that the world is taking action to prevent another generation of tobacco addiction and disease. Five million deaths a year are simply too much to ignore.
Source: smoke Free Educational services, www.corpwatch.org, June 2003

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