Smoking 'biggest killer in developing world'
Smoking will become the biggest killer in developing world countries within the next 20 years, government-backed research says.
Deaths from smoking-related diseases are expected to surpass those caused by the Aids epidemic.
The report forecasts that within two decades 8.5 million people a year will be dying in developing countries because of smoking.
A billion people round the world are currently smokers, and tobacco-related illness currently kills 3.5 million a year.
At the moment it is mainly a rich country disease, but the report from the Institute of Development Studies in Sussex, UK, says this is changing fast.
It predicts that by 2020, almost three-quarters of all smoking-related deaths will be in developing countries.
By then, it forecasts, tobacco will be claiming 10 million lives a year in total.
The report says the increasing process of globalisation will be partly to blame as developing countries are forced to drop tariff barriers against highly successful international brands.
Efforts to control the resulting spread of smoking are undermined by the deluge of marketing, advertising and sponsorship that follows.
The report says many governments are seduced by the inward investment this brings, but have not realised the long-term cost in human lives.
The World Health Organisation is developing a draft protocol to attempt to slow down the unstoppable march of "Marlborough man".