According to The Tobacco
Atlas, tobacco's estimated $500 billion drain on
the world economy exceeds the total combined annual
expenditure on health in all low-and middle-income
countries. The economic costs come as a result of lost
productivity, misused resources, ineffective taxation and
Because 25 percent of smokers die
and many more become ill during their most
productive years, income loss devastates families and
Cigarettes are the world's most widely
smuggled legal consumer product. In 2006, about 600
billion smuggled cigarettes made it to the market,
representing an enormous missed tax opportunity for
governments, as well as a missed opportunity to
prevent many people from starting to smoke and encourage
others to quit. A ten percent increase in cigarette
prices reduces demand by up to five percent among adults,
with even better results among young smokers.
Tobacco replaces potential food
production on almost 4 million hectares of the world's
agricultural land, equal to all of the world's
orange groves or banana plantations.
In developing countries, smokers
spend great sums of money in proportion to their incomes
that could otherwise be spent on food, healthcare and
Burden Shift to the World's Poorest
The Tobacco Atlas crystallizes an undeniable trend: the
tobacco industry has shifted its marketing and sales efforts
to countries that have less effective public health policies
and fewer resources in place:
In 2010, tobacco will kill six
million people worldwide annually, 72 percent of
whom will be in low and middle-income countries.
Since 1960 global tobacco production has
increased 300 percent in low- and middle-resource
countries while dropping more than 50 percent in
In India and China together, over half a
billion men are consuming tobacco.
In Bangladesh alone, if the average
household bought food with the money normally spent on
tobacco, more than 10 million people would no longer suffer
from malnutrition and 350 children under age five could be
saved each day.
"The Tobacco Atlas is crucial to understanding the nature of
the most preventable global health epidemic," said John R.
Seffrin, Ph.D. chief executive officer, American Cancer
Society. "This single resource can help advocates in
every nation get the knowledge they need to combat the scourge
of tobacco in their communities and on the worldwide stage. By
utilizing the information in The Tobacco Atlas to develop
public health strategies to reduce tobacco use and help people
stay well, we will save millions of lives. "
"Common throughout The Tobacco Atlas is vivid evidence that
the health burden is shifting from high-income countries to
their low and middle-income counterparts," said Peter Baldini,
chief executive officer, World Lung Foundation." The
evidence presented herein and online, however, must do more
than clearly articulate the scope and dimensions of the
problem. It should be applied actively to strengthen the case
for policy change."
The four authors of the publication bring together an
impressive array of credentials and unique experience. Omar
Shafey, Ph.D., M.P.H., is a medical anthropologist and
epidemiologist, and an adjunct professor of Global Health at
Emory University. Among many publications and studies, he was
a coauthor of the second edition of The Tobacco Atlas. Michael
Eriksen, Sc.D., is a professor and founding director of the
Institute of Public Health at Georgia State University. He has
been a Senior Advisor to the World Health Organisation (WHO),
and was director of the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention's Office on Smoking and Health. Hana Ross, Ph.D. is
an economist and strategic director of international tobacco
control research at the American Cancer Society. She is also
deputy director of the International Tobacco Network (ITEN), a
network promoting collaboration among economists interested in
tobacco control issues. Judith Mackay. M.D., is a Fellow of
the Royal Colleges of Physicians of Edinburgh and London, and
a special advisor at World Lung Foundation. She is also a
senior policy advisor to the World Health Organization (WHO)
and a director of the Asian Consultancy on Tobacco Control.
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