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World No Tobacco Day: Progress but not nearly enough, agency says

May 31, 2011|By Marissa Cevallos, HealthKey / For the Booster Shots blog
  • World No Tobacco Day acknowledges progress in some countries to enact smoking bans and warnings on labels, but urges other countries to follow suit.
World No Tobacco Day acknowledges progress in some countries to enact smoking… (Michael Reynolds / EPA )

Nearly 6 million people die from tobacco use each year, including 600,000 non-smokers, and without action those numbers could rise to more than 8 million by 2030, says the World Health Organization. World No Tobacco Day is supposed to spur the action needed to help prevent such deaths. 

On World No Tobacco Day, observed May 31, the international agency this year takes inventory of whether anti-smoking policies agreed to by most of the world in a public-health treaty are being implemented. The policies -- meant to decrease smoking-related deaths -- include higher tobacco taxes, designations of smoke-free public areas, restrictions on tobacco advertising and limits on additives.

The agency highlights progress in some countries. In Uruguay, for example, health warnings now have to cover 80% of the surface area of tobacco packages. In Mauritius, picture warnings are mandatory. And several countries, including Ireland and recently China, have enacted smoking bans in some public places.

But the agency isn't satisfied. More than 80% of the world’s smokers are in low- and middle-income countries -- and more stringent tobacco-control measures are sorely needed there, the agency says.

Even in the U.S., an estimated 443,000 people die each year from a tobacco-related illness, about 49,000 because of exposure to secondhand smoke, according to the CDC.

The agency is obviously hoping for more measures of success come World No Tobacco Day 2012.   

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healthkey@tribune.com

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