8m annual Cigarette death threaten Global economy-Expert
The global economy is at great risk with the potential death of 8 million people annually in the next ten years.
To mitigate this, experts are calling for a change in the pattern of tobacco usage.
Dr. Efrain Cambronero Moraga, a leading specialist in medical oncology at the Costa Rica Cancer Center, made this disclosure during a virtual conference on the threat tobacco usage causes and the need to change tobacco consumption behaviour.
Speaking at the conference which was monitored exclusively by The Nation newspaper, Moraga said: “If the pattern of smoking all over the globe doesn’t change, more than 8 million people a year will die from diseases related to tobacco use by 2030.”
He explained: “Worldwide, tobacco use causes more than 7 million deaths per year. If the pattern of smoking all over the globe doesn’t change, more than 8 million people a year will die from diseases related to tobacco use by 2030.”
Moraga gave a breakdown of the geographical distribution of the heaviest users, noting about 80 percent of the 1.3 billion tobacco users worldwide are from low and middle-income countries (LMIC).
Second-hand smoke, he said, “kills and it is a tremendous economic burden. It is the leading cause of preventable death, illness, and impoverishment and also the leading cause of cancer and cancer death”.
The death of more than 8 million people annually will amount to “a monumental public health problem to any country”.
Moraga noted: “Cigarette smoking is diminishing in many countries but non-combustible tobacco products use has increased”.
Nicotine, he said, “is responsible for keeping smokers from quitting. Nicotine is a non-carcinogenic drug but it is extremely addictive”.
The desire to reduce morbidity and mortality induced by tobacco use around the world he said was what necessitated the global movement by experts and cigarette manufacturers to organize the Tobacco Harm Reduction (THR) initiative.
The goal is to lower the health risks to individuals and the wider society associated with using tobacco products.
Asked if the THR strategy can work in Africa, Moraga said: “harm reduction can work anywhere. It can be implemented in any country, but the regulators have to adapt their control programmes because people who don’t want to quit nicotine because they are addicted need highly advanced measures”.
This approach, he said, “might be more helpful in low-income countries where the mortality rate can be reduced. The thing is, the harm reduction method needs a lot of years to work”.
He lamented: “Tobacco consumption around the world is still prevalent and in certain areas is growing. I can’t foresee that in the near future this is going to change”.
THR, he said, “can diminish the negative effects for health but it is still a discussion because IQOS or other similar products might help but we need more evidence and time”.
Head of the Medical Oncology Department at Hospital in Paris, Prof David Khayat, said smoking was the first risk factor for cancer around the world in 1990 and 20 years later still remains the same.
This habit, he argued, has led “to 100,000 deaths every year that can be attributed to smoking diseases. That is to say that the policies that we have now are failing”.
Khayat said despite medical advice for all smokers being treated for cancer to cease smoking 64 percent of smokers diagnosed with cancer continue to smoke.
“Innovation such as heating tobacco and e-cigarettes can lead to a path of new and safer alternatives for the smokers than can’t or don’t want to stop smoking,” he said.
Head of the Cardiology clinic at National Cardiology Hospital, Sofia, Bulgaria, Prof. Borislav Georgiev, who moderated the conference, said: “is an important publication in LANCET that shows that risk is not fully eliminated, it is reduced but not eliminated. The heat not burned devices or e-cigarette we can’t guess by how much will reduce the harm”.