Center for Communications, Health and the Environment
|Spring 2008||Vol. 3, Issue 1|
NEW ATLAS MAPS GLOBAL TOBACCO EPIDEMIC
Immediate Action Required: Understanding the Tobacco Epidemic and Stopping It in Its Tracks
by Dr. Judith Mackay, Director, Asian Consultancy on Tobacco Control, Kowloon, Hong Kong, and Director of Global Tobacco Control Programmes, and Project Coordinator, Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use, World Lung Foundation
Within 150 years of Columbus finding “strange leaves” in the New World, tobacco had made its way across theglobe. More than 500 years later, at the beginning of the 21st century, about one-third of adults throughout the world used tobacco. Today, “tobacco...is responsible for about 5 million deaths worldwide every year,” laments Dr. John R. Seffrin, chief executive officer of the American Cancer Society. And if current trends continue through 2025, it will kill 10 million individuals globally each and every year, with 7 million of these deaths occurring in the developing world.
Tobacco is the globe’s biggest killer. No other consumer product is as dangerous, or kills as many people. It led to the deaths of 100 million smokers in the 20th century, and, if left unchecked, 10 times as many – more than 1 billion people – are estimated to die from tobacco use in the 21st century. In fact, tobacco will eventually kill about 650 million smokers alive today. That’s about 10 percent of the current total global population! [See Full Lead Article]
Q&A With Dr. Judith Mackay
Dr. Judith Mackay, Director, Asian Consultancy on Tobacco Control, Kowloon, Hong Kong, and Director of Global Tobacco Control Programmes, and Project Coordinator, Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use, World Lung Foundation
1. What progress has been made in tobacco control since the 2002 Tobacco Atlas was published?
An astonishing amount of progress has been made, but first the bad news:
Thus, the epidemic is not being reduced; it is expanding, and is being transferred from the rich to the poor countries, which can least afford the economic burden.
The good news is that:
Several international, regional and national tobacco-control meetings have taken place; and journals such as Tobacco Control continue to expand, while articles on tobacco are appearing in other publications. [Read Full Q&A with Dr. Mackey]
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