Smoking: The World's Greatest Potential Health Scourge

Geneva, Switzerland | ANN / Jonathan Gallagher

Smoking is expected to become the world’s greatest health scourge, according to recent figures released by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Currently 1.2 billion people smoke, with 4 million dying annually from smoking-related illnesses. If current trends continue, this figure will rise to 10 million deaths a year by 2030, and will exceed the number of deaths from AIDS, tuberculosis, traffic accidents, suicide and murder combined.

A WHO press report states that the problem is worse than previously projected, and that much of the health impact will be among developing nations.

“There is mounting evidence to establish that nicotine has been manipulated to ensure that addiction occurs in minors and is maintained,” says the report. “New data from Brazil, India, China, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Oman, Egypt, to name a few, suggests that WHO may have severely underestimated the number of youths and children taking to tobacco everyday. WHO officials say the galloping burden of death, disease and disability from cancer, heart and lung diseases caused by tobacco will increasingly fall on developing countries, which are least prepared to cope.”

Incentives such as the current “Quit and Win” contest supported by WHO that promises a prize of $10,000 to a winner who quits smoking are not enough, according to Stoy Proctor, health spokesman for the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

“The world needs more than such incentives,” says Proctor. “The horrific toll on human health and life itself from smoking needs to be addressed in far more extensive and effective ways. We support all measures to end smoking use and addiction, and continue to work for a better quality of life by highlighting the benefits of a smoke-free lifestyle.”

Seventh-day Adventists are committed to promoting a positive and healthy way of life that avoids smoking and the use of alcohol and other drugs.

“We offer help to those already addicted to tobacco and provide preventative programs to help people to choose not to start,” Proctor adds. [Jonathan Gallagher]