Database Dissects Evils Of Smoking
To illustrate the evils of smoking, medical experts launched a database Thursday highlighting the fact that cigarettes are more addictive than cocaine, kill half their users and cause huge litter problems.
Among dozens of other items in the Tobacco FactFile: Smoking is the single biggest killer in Europe, responsible for one in six deaths at the rate of 137 per hour. Each pack of cigarettes sold in the United States costs the nation an estimated $7.18 in medical care costs and lost productivity. Each new smoker earned the tobacco industry $50,000 dollars, it claimed.
The British Medical Association, which put together the Internet database with European Union funding, said it was meant to present the "hard truth about the global tobacco epidemic," which currently kills an estimated 4.9 million people per year -- a toll expected to soar to 10 million in the next 25 years.
World Health Organization director-general Gro Harlem Brundtland launched the database at the climax of negotiations on a global anti-tobacco treaty. The four-year-old talks, meant to conclude Friday, are fraught with tensions between developing countries in Africa and Southeast Asia, which want sweeping restrictions, and the United States and Japan, which are holding out for weaker provisions.
The Tobacco FactFile is meant to provide a centralized source of information for future tobacco control activities. It consists of a long list of facts and figures, most from official sources and subject to peer review.
Worldwide, three in 10 adults smoke. Every day, up to 100,000 young people around the world become addicted to tobacco.
Smoking currently kills one in 10 adults worldwide. By 2030, the proportion will be one in six.
If current trends continue, about 500 million people alive today -- including 250 million children eventually will be killed by tobacco use.
Tobacco use in the United States causes more than 440,000 deaths each year and more than $75 billion in direct medical costs.
Smoking kills six times more people in Britain than do traffic accidents, poisoning, overdose, murder, manslaughter, suicide and AIDS combined.
Cigarettes are as addictive as drugs such as heroin or cocaine. On initial use, the risk of addiction to nicotine is greater than that of cocaine.
Female smokers are more likely to experience infertility and delays in conceiving. Smoking increases the risk of sexual impotence by around 50 percent for men in their 30s and 40s.
Smokers of low tar or 'light' cigarettes tend to compensate for lower nicotine yields by taking more puffs and inhaling more deeply. When filter ventilation holes are blocked on 'low tar' cigarettes, the tar yield can increase 12-fold.
In addition to tobacco, cigarettes can contain up to 600 additives, including ammonia, arsenic, lead and formaldehyde.
Additives are used to reduce and mask secondhand smoke. Approximately 85 percent of secondhand smoke is in the form of invisible, odorless gases.
Exposure to secondhand smoke increases the risk of stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, asthma and premature birth.
Each year, more than 17,000 children under age 5 are admitted to British hospitals because of exposure to other people's cigarette smoke.
The risk of feline cancer is doubled for a cat that shares a home with a smoker.
Cigarette butts accounted for almost one-fifth of all items collected in an international coastal cleanup project.