Smoking Kills More Than Any Other Cause

smokingkills like a loaded gunSmokefree Communities writes that “According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tobacco use remains the leading preventable cause of death in the United States, causing more than 440,000 deaths each year. In other words, tobacco kills more Americans each year than alcohol, illegal drug use, car accidents, murders, suicides, fires and AIDS combined!

Why does this happen? If tobacco were to be introduced today it would, without a doubt, be placed on the worldwide list of dangerous drugs next to heroin, crack cocaine and other lethally addictive drugs. It is tolerated because it it big money and because its effects are so insidious and compartively slow compared to other poisons ingested by people.

BreatheEasy tells us that secondhand smoke: “secondhand smoke is the third leading cause of preventable death in the country, killing more than 50,000 nonsmokers in the U.S. each year.” It has been shown to cause lung cancer, nasal cancer and heart disease in nonsmokers. For every eight smokers who die from using tobacco products, one nonsmoker is killed by secondhand smoke.

In 1997, (according to the WHO) total sales of the US tobacco industry alone amounted to more than $48 billion, compared with only $1.4 billion by gun manufacturers, who have had the backing of a powerful political lobby.

There are 1.1 billion smokers around the world. That makes up around one third of the adult global population. Smoking causes more death and disability than any other single disease, accounting for 7% of all deaths, with about 13,700 people dying each day of tobacco-related illnesses.

The WHO’s projection that states that tobacco will result in more than 10 million deaths annually by the year 2020 would make it the leading cause of death and disability, thus becoming more lethal than HIV, tuberculosis, car accidents, maternal mortality, suicide and homicide combined.

There is an estimated 42% of men and 24% of women that smoke in developed countries, while in developing countries 48% of men and 7% of women smoke. There are 800,000 smokers and an estimated one million people who die annually from tobacco in developing countries.

This UN Chronicle article, “Taking the world up in smoke: a tobacco peril“, June-August, 2004 by Namrita Talwar, discusses the rise of tobacco sales in developing countries. “Every eight seconds one person dies of tobacco-related diseases, which kill 4 million people annually. The worldwide demand for tobacco is expected to continually rise for at least another decade….consumption in developing nations is expected to escalate to 71 per cent by 2010, the report states. Population levels and incomes are growing more rapidly in the developing countries, and these are driving an increased consumption of tobacco.”

For example in Turkey, an emerging economy and rapidly developing country, sales of cigarettes has been increasing. Euromonitor International states in its article “Tobacco in Turkey” that “In contrast to most developed countries, the smoking population continues to increase in Turkey. The population growth sits at around 2% each year whereas the number of smokers grows by around 3% annually. More than 50% of the total population smokes, which makes Turkey very appealing to many international tobacco companies as a potential growth market.”

According to World Bulletin200,000 Turkish People Die Annually from Smoking“. It is a very young country with over 70% of its population below 35 years of age and consequently one of the tobacco industries targets. Turkey is also number five on the top ten list of tobacco producing countries.

Tobacco Supply, Demand and Trade by 2010: Policy Options and Adjustment Turkey is the fifth largest tobacco producer in the world, with about 1.5 percent of its total cultivated area under tobacco. “There are approximately 600,000 small tobacco growers in Turkey, with total employment in tobacco production employing some 1.5 million persons.” Turkey is also a major trader of tobacco on world markets and ranks fourth among tobacco exporting countries with cigarette taxes generating huge amounts of tax revenue.

Also, according to the Euromonitor article, not only is there an increase in Turkish smokers, cigarettes in Turkey have very high tar content, another addictive ingredient and high health hazard: “Around 80% of cigarettes smoked in Turkey are high tar, and some even exceed 10mg tar yield. The smoking population is addicted to high tar cigarettes…”

The UK and the EU have their share of problems as this article titled “ Smoking Kills – A White Paper on Tobacco” tells us: “Smoking is the single greatest cause of preventable illness and premature death in the UK. Smoking kills over 120,000 people in the UK a year – more than 13 people an hour. Every hour, every day. For the EU as a whole the number of deaths from tobacco is estimated at well over 500,000 a year.”

Some say that stopping tobacco farming will hurt the economies of many emerging countries. This is also a myth, probably put out by the tobacco industry. According to this article, Tobacco Supply, Demand and Trade by 2010: Policy Options and Adjustment “These studies suggest that, while it is clearly the case that some people in some countries may suffer, the impact of any moderate contraction in the tobacco market, particularly if it were to occur slowly, might have only a limited impact on most tobacco producing countries.”

The data speaks for itself and is extremely alarming. The rise in smoking in poorer countries without the benefit of advanced anti-smoking campaigns and and educated populace is clear. If you sell tobacco, you sell death and you help increase the cost of health care, both of which affects us all…

consumption Actual Projected
'000 tonnes 2000 2010 World 6,137.1 7,151.5
China 2,627.5 2,659.5
EU (15) 724.1 690.6
India 470.3 563.8
USSR (former area) 442.4 442.3
USA 434.4 433.8
Brazil 202.5 257.9
Japan 169.5 -
Indonesia 156.1 -
Turkey 133.6 -
Pakistan 90.0 - Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
  • More tobacco deaths occur in developing than developed countries.
  • By 2030, 70 per cent of all tobacco deaths will occur in developing countries.
  • In Bangladesh alone, over 10.5 million children could be saved from malnutrition if parents redirected expenses from tobacco to food.
  • In many countries, scarce land is used for growing tobacco instead of food.
  • Net income from tobacco crops is less than for food crops. Also, deforestation occurs due to flue curing of tobacco, which burns wood. This is a significant problem in some parts of Africa: for example, in southern Africa alone, an estimated 140,000 hectares of woodlands disappear annually to cure tobacco.
  • Most cigarettes consumed worldwide are international brands, and many countries lose foreign exchange dollars on tobacco. For example, in 1997/1998. Bangladesh earned $5.5 million in foreign exchange from exporting tobacco, but spent $20.5 million importing the product, resulting in a net foreign exchange loss of $15 million.
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