Tobacco deaths higher than HIV/Aids, Malaria and TB

Over five million people die from the effects of tobacco globally a year, which is higher than HIV/Aids, malaria and tuberculosis deaths combined, the South African Medical Association (Sama)said on Thursday.

“It is the only legal consumer product that kills when used exactly as the manufacturer intends,” Sama member Dr Trevor Terblanche said.

He was speaking ahead of World Tobacco Day on May 31 which has as its theme “Health Warnings”.

“Up to half of all smokers will die from a tobacco-related disease. It is also a known fact that second-hand smoke harms everyone who is exposed to it,” he said in a statement.

Terblanche said more and more countries were fighting tobacco companies by requiring that tobacco packages graphically show the dangers of smoking.

“Despite all the efforts though, nine out of ten people live in countries that do not require warnings with pictures on tobacco packages,” he said.

“Nicotine is a highly addictive substance.
Warning people about its true risks can go a long way towards reducing tobacco addiction.”

He said requiring warnings on tobacco packages was a simple, cheap and effective strategy that could save lives.

Terblanche explained that smoking accounted for at least 30 percent of all cancer-related deaths, and can also damage a woman’s
reproductive system, as well as hurt babies.

The habit has also been linked to other health problems including gum disease, cataracts, bone thinning, hip fractures, peptic ulcers, macular degeneration, and eye disease.—Sapa

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