Healthy Living: Smoking Rates

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Monday, October 29, 2012 | Katie Gibas | Categories:
The number of people who smoke has dropped by about half over the last three decades. But, 24 percent of the world population still lights up regularly. And according to research published in the Tobacco Control Journal, that number will barely decrease without major action. Katie Gibas reports. Five million people around the world die every year from smoking. "There's nothing better that somebody can do if they're a smoker to improve their health than to quit the tobacco," said Chris Owens, The St. Joseph's Hospital Tobacco Cessation Center Director. The number of people who smoke has dropped by about half over the last three decades, but 24 percent of the world population still lights up regularly. And according to research published in the Tobacco Control Journal, that number will barely decrease without major action. "It's the marketing that we've done away decades ago that specifically market to the children and uneducated population that kind of makes the health consequences of smoking off to the side so people don't start to think about that. And it provides more of a glamorous outlook of smoking," said Owens. The World Health Organization's Voluntary Tobacco Control Policy called MPOWER has several provisions to reduce supply, reduce demand, ban advertising and make smoking less accessible. Researchers said implementing that plan could cut global smoking rates in half by the year 2030. "These markets around the world are vast, and that's why this global initiative of the World Health Organization which is an arm of the United Nations is so important," said Dr. Leslie Kohman, the Upstate Cancer Center Medical Director. Owens added, "Increasing the price of a pack of cigarettes is probably the most effective method to keep new smokers from starting to smoke. The kids no longer have the means to be able to purchase that first pack of cigarettes." Dr. Kohman said, "People who don't start smoking until their 20s, don't start smoking. Almost everyone who is a smoker began smoking as a child or a teen." The WHO plan also calls for countries to have an economic plan in place to transition out of the tobacco business. "This is a very important agricultural product in many parts of the world, and those farmers need to have an alternative," said Dr. Kohman. Health experts say the plan is very comprehensive and it will most likely cut smoking rate s by nearly half. And then health care professionals can focus more of their efforts on other health issues.
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