Tobacco epidemic is one of the biggest public health threats the world has ever faced, killing more than seven (7) million people yearly, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has stated.

WHO also declared that about 146,000 adults aged 30 years and above die every year from tobacco related diseases.

The global health body made the disclosure on the occasion of the celebration of World No tobacco day. 31st May of every year has been declared as world No Tobacco Day to the dangers associated with using tobacco, and to press for policies to reduce tobacco use.

In his message to mark the occasion, WHO Regional Director, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti said

“the tobacco epidemic is one of the biggest public health threats the world has ever faced, killing more than 7 million people each year. Tobacco breaks hearts. Tobacco use and exposure to second-hand smoke contribute to about 12% of all heart disease deaths. There is no safe level for people, particularly children, women and workers, who have to be in the same room as smokers.

“On the African Region, about 146 000 adults aged 30 years and above die every year from tobacco-related diseases. When tobacco users die prematurely in their productive years, families lose loved ones and income, and economic development is negatively affected.

“Although concrete actions and measures exist to stem the tide of tobacco related diseases, more needs to be done to further raise awareness about the harmful effects of tobacco use. Many people are unaware that tobacco is one of the leading causes of heart disease and stroke.”

He also called for “Policies that regulate tobacco, promote smoke-free environments and encourage people to quit smoking will contribute to improving the health and well-being of all people.

He also urged everybody to play a role in promoting healthy hearts by committing not to use tobacco, helping others to quit, and protecting all people, including family members, workers and children, from tobacco smoke.

“Eliminating tobacco use will help to protect hearts from breaking. Let us choose health, not tobacco,” he said.

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