WHO highlights huge scale of tobacco-related lung disease deaths

Ahead of World No Tobacco Day (31 May), the World Health Organization is highlighting the damage tobacco causes to lung health: over 40% of all tobacco-related deaths are from lung diseases like cancer, chronic respiratory diseases and tuberculosis. WHO is calling on countries and partners to increase action to protect people from exposure to tobacco.

“Every year, tobacco kills at least 8 million people. Millions more live with lung cancer, tuberculosis, asthma or chronic lung disease caused by tobacco,” said 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.”

In 2017, tobacco killed 3.3 million users and people exposed to second-hand smoke from lung-related conditions, including:

  • 1.5 million people dying from chronic respiratory diseases
  • 1.2 million deaths from cancer (tracheal, bronchus and lung)
  • 600 000 deaths from respiratory infections and tuberculosis

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.

What can be done?

WHO is urging countries to fight the tobacco epidemic through full implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) and enforcing effective tobacco control actions, including WHO’s recommended “MPOWER” policy measures, for example by reducing demand for tobacco through taxation, creating smoke-free places and cessation support.

The Organization also encourages 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.

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