The world health organisation, WHO, has revealed that smoking and other tobacco products kills more than seven million people each year.
The global health agency said tougher measures were needed to rein in tobacco use, urging countries to ban smoking in the workplace and indoor public spaces, outlaw marketing of tobacco products and hike cigarette prices.
“Tobacco threatens us all,” WHO chief Margaret Chan said in a statement.
“Tobacco exacerbates poverty, reduces economic productivity, contributes to poor household food choices, and pollutes indoor air,” she said.
In a report released ahead of World No Tobacco Day on Wednesday, WHO warned that the annual death toll of seven million people had jumped from four million at the turn of the century, making tobacco the world’s single biggest cause of preventable death.
And the death toll is expected to keep rising, with WHO bracing for more than one billion deaths this century.
“By 2030, more than 80 percent of the deaths will occur in developing countries, which have been increasingly targeted by tobacco companies seeking new markets to circumvent tightening regulation in developed nations.”
Tobacco use also brings an economic cost: WHO estimates that it drains more than $1.4 trillion (1.3 trillion euros) from households and governments each year in healthcare expenditures and lost productivity, or nearly two percent of the global gross domestic product.
In addition to the health and economic costs linked to smoking, the WHO report for the first time delved into the environmental impact of everything from tobacco production to the cigarette butts and other waste produced by smokers.