By COMFORT NJIONYE
According to World Health Organization it has been discovered that over 7 million people die yearly as a result of Smoking and other tobacco uses.
Tougher measures are needed to restraint tobacco use, the UN agency warns of the dreadful environmental impact of tobacco production, distribution and waste, and urges 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 worsens poverty, decreases 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 unnecessary bereavement.
“By 2030, more than 80 percent of the deaths will occur in developing countries, as tobacco companies which have new markets to circumvent tightening regulation”.
Tobacco use also 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, according to WHO estimation.
In addition to the health and economic costs associated to smoking, WHO investigated into the environmental impact of entirety from tobacco production to the cigarette butts and other waste produced by smokers.
“From start to finish, the tobacco life cycle is an overwhelmingly polluting and damaging process”, WHO Assistant Director-General Oleg Chestnov said in a report.
The report detailed how growing tobacco often requires large quantities of fertilizers and pesticides, and it warned that tobacco farming had become the main cause of deforestation in several countries due to the amount of wood needed for curing tobacco, with WHO estimating that one tree is required for every 300 cigarettes produced.
Also highlighted BY WHO is the pollution generated during the production, transportation and distribution of tobacco products.
The report estimates that the industry produces nearly four million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent annually which is about three million transatlantic flights and the waste from the process contains over 7,000 toxic chemicals that poison the environment, including human carcinogens.
Once in the hands of the consumer, tobacco smoke releases thousands of human cancer-causing agent, toxic substances and greenhouse gases into the environment.
Two thirds of the 15 billion cigarettes sold each day are thrown on the street or somewhere in the environment, it said, adding that butts account for up to 40 percent of all items collected in coastal and urban clean-ups.
It’s important that government takes strong measures to strap tobacco use.
According to Chestnov “One of the least used, but most effective tobacco control measures… is through increasing tobacco tax and prices”.