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Tobacco Industry Profits US$7,000 For Smoking-Related Deaths

Strong tobacco control laws have helped reduce smoking rates, but a lot remains to be done, health campaigners say, noting that tobacco industry profits are still around $7,000 for each tobacco-related death.

The industry remains committed to protecting its profits — $44 billion in 2013 — by delaying or derailing measures to control the sale and use of tobacco, according to The Tobacco Atlas report released by the World Lung Foundation and the American Cancer Society at the 16th World Conference on Tobacco or Health in Abu Dhabi.

In that year, smoking-related illnesses killed 6.3 million people representing a US$7,000 profit for the tobacco industry for each of those deaths, the report said.

“There is a perception that we know everything about tobacco and the harm it causes, but the truth is that every edition of The Tobacco Atlas reveals something new about the industry, its tactics and the real harm it causes,” says Peter Baldini, the chief executive officer of the World Lung Foundation.

Tobacco is the world’s leading preventable cause of lung cancer and chronic conditions, including heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure.

While tobacco use in many of the world’s developed, wealthy nations has been declining or remained stable, it has been increasing in poorer regions.

Of particular concern is China, where an average of more than 2,200 cigarettes were smoked per person in 2014.

“The significant reductions in smoking rates in the United Kingdom, Australia, Brazil and other countries that implement increasingly tight tobacco control laws have been offset by the growing consumption in a single nation: China,” the Atlas report said.

While many countries have instituted measures to curb tobacco use, such as banning advertising and outlawing smoking indoors in restaurants, bars and offices, only around 10 percent of the global population is covered by bans on advertising and just 16 percent by bans on smoking in enclosed indoor spaces, the Atlas shows.

The Atlas also revealed a worrying increase in smoking by women, with the tobacco industry linking it to sophistication and emancipation, which has increased rates of lung cancer to the point where it is killing more women than breast cancer.

The Atlas identified more than 20 countries where girls smoke more often than boys.

“Whether it’s the link between tobacco and increasing rates of lung cancer among women or the ever-increasing number of health conditions and deaths related to tobacco use, the health and economic case for reducing tobacco use has never been clearer,” says John R. Seffrin, the chief executive officer of the American Cancer Society

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