NEW YORK, Feb 7, 2008 (AFP) – Tobacco use could kill more than one billion people around the world this century unless governments and civil society act to reverse the epidemic, according to a World Health Organization (WHO) report released Thursday. “One hundred million deaths were caused by tobacco in the 20th century,” said the report unveiled by WHO Director General Margaret Chan at a joint press conference with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
“If current trends continue, there will be up to one billion deaths in the 21st century,” the report said.
“Unchecked, tobacco-related deaths will increase to more than eight million a year by 2030, and 80 percent of those deaths will occur in the developing world.”
The study, which provides key data on tobacco use and control for countries representing more than 99 percent of the world’s population, recommends a six-pronged approach to combat the scourge.
The strategies involve monitoring tobacco use and prevention policies, protecting people from tobacco smoke, offering help to quit tobacco use, warning about the dangers of tobacco, enforcing bans on tobacco advertising and promotion and raising taxes on tobacco.
“While efforts to combat tobacco are gaining momentum, virtually a