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Tobacco industry kills over eight million people yearly – WHO




THE World Health Organization (WHO) has said the tobacco industry is responsible for the death of eight million people yearly.

In addition to the human fatalities, the tobacco industry claims 600 million trees, 200,000 hectares of land, 22 billion tonnes of water and 84 million tonnes of carbon dioxide. 

In a statement to commemorate this year’s World No Tobacco Day, the agency called on nations to make the industry more accountable for the destruction it is causing.


World No Tobacco Day: FG urged to raise taxes to discourage smoking

Reports accuse British American Tobacco of bribing African leaders, others to undermine public health

Group says Nigeria’s weak tobacco regulations, poor enforcement exploited by industry players

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Tobacco Control Regulations: ERA demands ban on cigarette sales to minors  

The WHO report “Tobacco: Poisoning our planet” noted that the industry’s carbon footprint from production, processing and transporting tobacco is equivalent to one-fifth of the carbon dioxide produced by the commercial airline industry each year, further contributing to global warming. 

Most tobacco is grown in low-and-middle-income countries, where water and farmland are often desperately needed to produce food for the region. Instead, they are being used to grow deadly tobacco plants while more and more land is being cleared of forests, WHO stated.

Director of Health Promotion at the agency, Ruediger Krech, a doctor, said, “Tobacco products are the most littered item on the planet, containing over 7,000 toxic chemicals, which leech into our environment when discarded. Roughly 4.5 trillion cigarette filters pollute our oceans, rivers, city sidewalks, parks, soil and beaches every year.”

WHO noted that products like cigarettes, smokeless tobacco and e-cigarettes also add to the build-up of plastic pollution. 

It said cigarette filters contained microplastics and made up the second-highest form of plastic pollution worldwide.

“Despite tobacco industry marketing, there is no evidence that filters have any proven health benefits. WHO calls on policy-makers to treat cigarette filters as what they are, single-use plastics, and consider banning cigarette filters to protect public health and the environment.”

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According to the WHO, the costs of cleaning up littered tobacco products fall on taxpayers rather than the industry creating the problem. 

Cleaning up littered tobacco products costs China roughly US$ 2.6 billion and India around US$ 766 million. The cost for Brazil and Germany comes in at over US$ 200 million.

The agency said countries like France and Spain and cities like San Francisco and California in the USA had taken a stand. “Following the Polluter Pays Principle, they have successfully implemented “extended producer responsibility legislation”, which makes the tobacco industry responsible for clearing up the pollution it creates.

“WHO urges countries and cities to follow this example and give support to tobacco farmers to switch to sustainable crops, implement strong tobacco taxes (that could also include an environmental tax), and offer support services to help people quit tobacco.”

On Monday, The ICIR reported how a coalition of civil society organizations urged the Nigerian government to increase taxes on tobacco products to discourage smoking in the country.

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