Most people today know that smoking is bad for their health and that it’s a hard habit to break. But do people think about the global effects of tobacco? Or how much money tobacco-related diseases cost us?
Tuesday was World No Tobacco Day. On May 31 of each year, countries around the world work to educate on the dangers of smoking and encourage their citizens to quit smoking or to never start.
This year the theme was the promotion of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. The treaty was established in May 2003 and was the first global public health treaty. The WHO treaty agreement was established in response to the worldwide tobacco epidemic. Its vision is to create “a world free from the devastating health, social, economic and environmental consequences of tobacco and tobacco use.”
Within five years of ratifying the treaty, a country is required to enact stricter bans on tobacco advertising and marketing, ban misleading terms on cigarette packaging such as “light” or “mild,” display health warnings on tobacco packages, and protect citizens from exposure to second-hand smoke on public transportation, work environments and public places. The treaty also requires the country to have tax policies in place that aim to reduce tobacco use and to monitor illegal trade of tobacco products.
To date, 173 countries have ratified the treaty. This covers about 87.4 percent of the world’s population.
The United States has signed this treaty, but has not yet ratified it. This means the United States agrees with the vision, but is not bound to the legal requirements of the treaty.
It is important for our legislators to ratify this treaty to increase the public health efforts aimed at protecting our citizens from tobacco use, second-hand smoke and to protect our youth from the heavy marketing efforts of tobacco companies. Urge your local and state representatives to support ratification of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control treaty. This will help to protect public health not just locally, but nationally and globally.
Worldwide, there are about 5 million deaths a year due to smoking. Approximately 450,000 people die every year in the United States due to tobacco-related diseases. According to the international Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, every day 80,000-100,000 youth become addicted to tobacco products. Tobacco use has become an epidemic crisis for developed and developing countries. Global marketing, tobacco promotion and advertising are some of the factors involved with this epidemic. Tobacco companies spend lots of money promoting and marketing their products to increase the number of people smoking. They have to do this because they have to replace those customers who die each day from using their products.
Philip Morris International recently revealed at its annual stakeholders meeting their revenues for 2010 totaled $27 billion. This is in contrast with the tobacco-related yearly estimated costs:
— $98 billion for total public and private health care costs
— $97 billion in productivity losses due to smoking
— $2.6 billion in Social Security Survivors insurance for over 300,000 children who lost a parent due to smoking
— $70.7 billion in yearly taxpayer burden from smoking-caused government spending
And, these are just the smoking-related costs in the United States. Imagine the world totals. When just looking at the monetary costs of smoking, it seems foolish to not regulate advertising and promotion of smoking. It’s just too expensive and deadly.
The Clark County Health Department does its part to protect public health from tobacco-related diseases by offering free smoking cessation classes, held continuously throughout the year.
The Health Department also offers educational materials on the dangers of second-hand smoke, smoking during pregnancy, youth smoking prevention and offers support in the promotion of a smoke-free work campus.
For more information, please contact Beth Willett at the Clark County Health Department at 744-4482 or email@example.com.
To learn more about the global tobacco public health treaty, visit http://www.who.int/fctc/en/index.html.
Information and data gathered for this article came from the WHO website, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, and the Framework Convention Alliance.