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Tobacco kills over eight million people annually, WHO

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As the world marks No Tobacco Day on Friday, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has urged countries and stakeholders to increase action to protect people from exposure to tobacco.

WHO also encouraged parents and community leaders to take steps to safeguard the health of their families and communities by informing them of and protecting them from the harms caused by tobacco.

Statistically, over 40 percent of all tobacco related deaths are from lung diseases like cancer, chronic respiratory diseases and tuberculosis.

“Every year, tobacco kills at least eight million people. Millions more live with lung cancer, tuberculosis, asthma or chronic lung disease caused by tobacco,” noted WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

“Healthy lungs are essential to living a healthy life. Today and everyday you can protect your lungs and those of your friends and family by saying no to tobacco,” he added.

About 3.3 million users and people exposed to second-hand smoke died in 2017. Of this, 1.5 million people died from chronic respiratory diseases, 1.2 died from tracheal, bronchus and lung cancer while 600,000 died from respiratory infections and tuberculosis.

{ Read: BAT feels the heat over tax evasion }

More than 60 000 children aged under 5 die of lower respiratory infections caused by second-hand smoke. Those who live on into adulthood are more likely to develop chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) later in life.

Countries have been encouraged to fight the tobacco epidemic through full implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) and enforcing effective tobacco control actions.

Locally, the government has intensified fight against the use of tobacco by imposing high taxes and introducing laws that ban the sale of loose cigarette sticks and public advertising of the products.

However, despite the strict measures, the success is gradually with about 2.2 million people actively use tobacco products with its two-thirds smoking cigarettes.

Smoking cigarettes is reported to be the main cause of lung cancer and highly contribute to heart disease and strokes.

Kenya is a major producer of both raw tobacco and manufactured tobacco products with about 35,000 farmers producing tobacco leaf.

{ See Also: Tobacco farmers earn lowest in 3 years }

The farming mainly occurs in Nyanza and Western province with some activities in Central and Eastern provinces.

Further, the country’s British American Tobacco (BAT) company dominates about 71.5 percent of the manufactured tobacco products.

According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics 2014 report, tobacco accounts for 7 percent of Kenya’s GDP, contributing approximately Sh10.2 billion in tax revenues to the Government.


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Brenda Gamonde
Brenda Gamonde
Brenda Gamonde is reporter with Business Today. Email: [email protected]
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