Cigarettes now leading cause of death in developing world: World Bank
SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) - Cigarettes and tobacco have become a leading cause of illness and death in developing countries, outpacing AIDS and placing a heavy burden on health systems, said a World Bank economist.
More than 2.5 million people die each year in developing countries from illnesses related to tobacco consumption, roughly the same level of developed countries, said Joy de Beyer, a World Bank economist.
This level of deaths is likely rise to seven million people a year within two decades, while tobacco-related deaths and illnesses will likely remain steady or decline in more developed societies, she said.
Among many other health-related causes of death, in poorer countries "only in AIDS and tobacco are death rates rising," De Beyer told reporters in San Francisco at the launch of a new study on combating smoking in developing.
The expert who specializes in smoking-related illnesses said that while tobacco consumption in developed countries has fallen sharply due to government regulation and health education, the problem continues to grow in many developing countries, exacerbating poverty problems.
"Disease and illness are one of the highest factors in impoverishing people," said de Beyer.
However, she noted that anti-smoking education campaigns in diverse countries such as the Brazil, Thailand, Poland and South Africa have had significant impact in reducing tobacco consumption.
Through higher taxation, public education programs and cigarette marketing restrictions, de Beyer said, each achieved "dramatic" reductions in cigarette smoking despite strong resistance from cigarette manufacturers and distributors.