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Smoking down, but tobacco use still a major cause of death, disease

01 June 2018

Smoking tobacco cigarettes each day was associated with almost three times the risk, and using both together on a daily basis leads to five times the risk of heart attack, when compared to non-smokers.

On the occasion of World No Tobacco Day Thursday, the United Nations health agency hailed that smoking had declined significantly since year 2000, but warned that there were still far too many people indulging in the unsafe habit.

"Most people know that using tobacco causes cancer and lung disease, but many people aren't aware that tobacco also causes heart disease and stroke - the world's leading killers", WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

According to the report, tobacco use has declined markedly since 2000, but the reduction is insufficient to meet globally agreed targets aimed at protecting people from death and suffering from cardiovascular and other non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

The global health agency, in the report by health experts, said spreading the message that tobacco caused deadly illnesses such as heart disease and stroke helped prevent "needless" loss of life.

The federal health minister says she'd like to get the percentage of Canadians using tobacco down to less than five per cent by 2035, compared with 15 per cent today.

"Tobacco doesn't just cause cancer".

But many tobacco users in China and India are unaware of their increased risk of developing heart disease and stroke, making it urgent to step up awareness campaigns, it said.

China and India have the highest numbers of smokers worldwide, accounting for 307 million and 106 million, respectively, of the world's 1.1 billion adult smokers, followed by Indonesia with 74 million, WHO figures show.

"The worldwide prevalence of tobacco smoking has decreased from 27 percent in 2000 to 20 percent in 2016, so progress has been made", Douglas Bettcher, director of the WHO's prevention of noncommunicable diseases department, told a news briefing.

According to a new World Health Organization report on smoking trends and prevalence, the percentage of people worldwide who indulge in the habit has dropped from 27 percent in 2000 to 20 percent in 2016.