Marking the annual World No Tobacco Day on May 31, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that a person dies from a tobacco-related illness every 6-1/2 seconds, the Associated Press reported May 28.
“This is occurring mostly in developing countries, adding significantly to their burden of disease and poverty,” said Lee Jong-wook, director-general of WHO. “The world cannot accept such easily preventable human and economic losses.”
According to WHO, 4.9 million people die each year from tobacco. The figure is expected to double in the next 20 years.
WHO estimates that there are 1.3 billion tobacco users worldwide. The number is expected to grow to 1.7 billion in 2025.
Lee urged more countries to sign WHO’s anti-tobacco treaty. Currently, 118 of WHO’s 192 member states have signed the treaty. To date, 16 have ratified it. The deadline for countries to sign the accord is June 29.
“Once the convention comes into force — 90 days after its 40th ratification — it will become a powerful means of controlling this entirely unnecessary threat to health and welfare,” Lee said. “Countries should lose no time in signing and ratifying the convention.”