Deaths related to tobacco have nearly tripled over the past decade, according to a new report led by the World Lung Foundation (WLF) and American Cancer Society.
The report also charges that tobacco companies have tried to interfere with efforts to increase public awareness about the dangers of tobacco products.
According to the report, deaths from tobacco are on the rise in poorer and developing areas–such as China, Africa and the Middle East. Almost 80 percent of tobacco-related deaths are people in such areas. In Turkey, smoking related illnesses are responsible for 38 percent of all male deaths, the WLF reports. In China, tobacco kills 1.2 million people each year, according to the report. That number is estimated to reach 3.5 million by 2030, the report says.
The WLF also says that the top six tobacco makers had profits of $35.1 billion in 2010–equal to the profits of McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and Microsoft combined.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), tobacco industry interference will be the theme of their next “World No Tobacco Day,” which will take place on May 31 of this year. The announcement about World No Tobacco Day calls efforts by the tobacco industry to combat public anti-smoking initiatives “brazen and increasingly aggressive.” The WLF report accuses tobacco companies of promoting misunderstandings about tobacco and increasing legal challenges against efforts to change product labeling and pass public smoking bans.
Though smoking deaths have seen a decline in more developed countries, smoking is still the leading cause of early, preventable deaths in the US, according to the American Cancer Society. Smoking is also one of the leading causes of death for American women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), killing nearly 174,000 women every year. The CDC also estimates that cigarettes cause almost 400,000 deaths in the U.S. each year.
Experts at the American Cancer Society say this figure may actually be higher, since that number doesn’t account for the children and others who suffer from tobacco-related sicknesses because of second-hand smoke.