Turkey tops tobacco-related male deaths with 37.6 percent

In Turkey, 37.6 percent of male deaths are caused by smoking-related illnesses, according to the Tobacco Atlas report published on Wednesday by the health campaign group World Lung Foundation (WLF). (Photo: Today's Zaman)

March 23, 2012, Friday/ 13:56:00

In Turkey, 37.6 percent of male deaths are caused by smoking-related illnesses, according to a report published on Wednesday by health campaign group the World Lung Foundation (WLF).

In the report, which marks the 10th anniversary of its first Tobacco Atlas, the WLF and the American Cancer Society said if current trends continue, a billion people will die from tobacco use and exposure this century -- one person every six seconds. It also stated that tobacco-related deaths have nearly tripled in the past decade and that big tobacco firms are undermining public efforts that could save millions of lives.

Tobacco has killed 50 million people in the last 10 years and is responsible for more than 15 percent of all male deaths and 7 percent of female deaths, the new Tobacco Atlas report found.

According to the Tobacco Atlas report, Turkish men topped all countries in the world for smoking-related deaths, as 46 percent of Turkish men are smokers. The number of deaths related to smoking in Turkey surpassed that of Armenia (32.7 percent), Kazakhstan (34.7 percent), Poland (31.1 percent) and Belgium (30.6 percent).

Some 15 percent of women smoke in Turkey, with smoking-related illnesses causing 5.8 percent of deaths amongst women. The report indicates that approximately 1,399 cigarettes are smoked in Turkey per capita every year.

In China, tobacco is already the number one killer -- causing 1.2 million deaths a year -- and that number is expected to rise to 3.5 million a year by 2030, the report said.

That is part of a broader shift, with smoking rates in the developed world declining but numbers growing in poorer regions, said Michael Eriksen, one of the report's authors and director of the Institute of Public Health at Georgia State University.

"If we don't act, the projections for the future are even more morbid. And the burden of death caused by tobacco is increasingly one of the developing world, particularly in Asia, the Middle East and Africa," he said at a press conference.

The WLF's chief executive, Peter Baldini, has recently accused the tobacco industry of thriving on ignorance about the true effects of smoking and encouraging "misinformation to subvert health policies that could save millions."

The report said the industry has stepped up its fight against anti-tobacco policies, launching legal challenges and seeking to delay or stop the introduction of plain packaging, legislation banning smoking in public places, advertising bans and health warnings on packets.

The world's six biggest tobacco firms made $35.1 billion in profits in 2010 -- equal to the combined earnings of Coca-Cola, Microsoft and McDonald's, the report said.

Smoking causes lung cancer as well as several other chronic pulmonary diseases and is a major risk factor in heart disease, the world's number one killer. More than 170 countries have signed up to a World Health Organization (WHO)-led convention committing them to cut smoking rates, limiting exposure to second-hand smoke and curbing tobacco advertising and promotion.

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