WHO: Smoking Could Kill 6m In 2011

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The World Health Organisation says tobacco smoking, WHO, will kill nearly six million people this year, including 600,000 non-smokers around the world.

The main reason for this is because governments are not doing enough to persuade people to quit or protect others from second-hand smoke according to WHO.

The organisation further stressed that since there is often a lag of many years between when people start smoking and when it affects health, the epidemic of tobacco-related disease and death has just begun, stressing that it would reach a peak by 2030, when the annual death toll could reach eight million.

The United Nations health body urged more governments to sign up to and implement its tobacco control treaty, warning that if current trends persist, tobacco could cause up to a billion deaths in the 21st century, a dramatic rise from the 100 million deaths it caused in the previous century.

However, the body noted some encouraging recent moves like the one by Uruguay which now requires health warnings that cover 80 percent of the surface of tobacco packs. Last month, China implemented a ban on smoking in public places such as restaurants and bars.

But it said that if the FCTC was to achieve its full potential as the “most powerful tobacco control tool”, more needed to be done.

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To mark World No Tobacco Day on May 31, the World Lung Foundation (WLF) campaign group launched a website of graphic and gruesome images of the health effects of smoking that health officials can download for use as warnings on tobacco packaging.

The WLF said that on average, smokers see images on tobacco packs 15 times a day, adding up to almost 5,500 times a year which makes pictures “a highly effective channel to inform smokers about the dangers of tobacco.”

Meanwhile, in Nigeria, after long years of foot-dragging, the House of Representatives yesterday passed the National Tobacco Control Bill  as part of activities to mark this year’s World No Tobacco  Day with the Nigerian Heart Foundation (NHF) appealing to President Goodluck Jonathan to immediately assent to the bill with a view to protecting the citizens from the harmful effects of tobacco as well as save costs of medicare.

Nigerian government had allowed tobacco companies to operate in the country with little or no regulation of their activities.

When given accent by President Jonathan, the bill would empower the minister of health to prescribe the photographs or pictures that would be used to pass across the message of the harmful effects of smoking.

—Eromosele Ebhomele