Malawi: Tobacco Killing 8m People Worldwide Annually – Report

A recent report on tobacco use and production suggests that the green leaf kills eight million people worldwide each, with the majority of the deaths occurring in low- and middle-income countries where 80 percent of the world’s smokers live.

The report, which the Malawi Non – Communicable Diseases Alliance (Malawi NCDs Alliance, has quoted in its statement released as part of activities to commemorate this year’s World No To Tobacco Campaign, further states that not only smokers are at risk, as second hand smoking causes 1.2 million deaths per year.

Malawi NCDs Alliance has challenged governments and states to take drastic measures to reverse the trend.

The alliance’s chairperson Maud Mwakasungula said tobacco use remains a leading cause of multiple cancers such as oral cancers, lung, liver, stomach, bowel and ovarian cancers, as well as some types of leukaemia.

Mwakasungula said quitting at any age can therefore make an immense difference for the user, increasing life expectancy and improving the quality of life.

“The link between tobacco and heart and other cardiovascular diseases (CVD), including stroke, combined are also the world’s leading causes of death. Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) kill more people than any other cause of death worldwide, and tobacco use and second-hand smoke exposure contribute to approximately 17 percent of all heart disease deaths. Tobacco use is the second leading cause of CVD, after high blood pressure,” reads the press release.

Mwakasungula adds that the harmful impact of the tobacco industry on the environment is vast and growing and is adding unnecessary pressure to our planet’s already scarce resources and fragile ecosystems.

She further states that tobacco destroys our environment, further harming human health, through the cultivation, production, distribution, consumption, and post-consumer waste.

“Therefore, it is paramount for governments and policy makers to step up legislation, including implementing and strengthening existing schemes to make producers responsible for the environmental and economic costs of tobacco product waste,” she narrates.

Mwakasungula further notes that the tobacco industry continues to promote tobacco use with very strong and powerful marketing campaigns targeted particularly at youth populations. It is therefore very important to counter the dissemination of misinformation and to raise awareness about this complex topic encompassing several health and socio-economic domains.

In this regard, she says, the Malawi NCDs Alliance has been concerned by the rise in the prevalence of youth smoking and calls for reinforcing strict regulation of the ingredients, age limits and other aspects related to the sales and distribution of cigarettes.

“Malawi NCDs Alliance is therefore calling for increased taxes charged on tobacco and nicotine products to discourage many from smoking, introduction and enforcement of bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, passing of strong legislation and enforcement which protects people (particularly children) from tobacco smoking and smoke, including smoking in public and enhancing public awareness education by all stakeholders on the negative effects and impact of tobacco smoking,” recommends Mwakasungula.

Malawi NCD Alliance is a group of civil society organisations and advocates with the main goal of creating an inclusive platform that allows a unified approach aimed at addressing NCDs issues and challenges in Malawi.

On the other hand, the World No Tobacco Day was established by the Member States of the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 1987 to draw global attention to the tobacco epidemic and the preventable death and diseases it causes.

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