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WHO Stresses Environmental Impact Of Tobacco Smoking

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Tobacco growing contributes to deforestation, with a tree lost for every 300 cigarettes

Tobacco kills 7.2 million people and costs the world economy $1.4 trillion dollar every year as well as leading to deforestation, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Tuesday.

In a statement released ahead of World No Tobacco Day, the UN’s health agency stressed the environmental impact of smoking.

In its first-ever report on the environmental impact of tobacco, the WHO highlighted the more than 7,000 toxic chemicals from tobacco that poison the environment, as well as the tobacco smoke that contributes to thousands of tons of human carcinogens, toxins and greenhouse gases.

Up to two-thirds of the 15 billion cigarettes sold daily are disposed of in the environment and cigarette butts account for 30-40 percent of all items collected in coastal and urban cleanups, the agency added.

According to the report, tobacco growing contributes to deforestation, with a tree lost for every 300 cigarettes produced.

“Tobacco threatens us all,” WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan said. “Tobacco exacerbates poverty, reduces economic productivity, contributes to poor household food choices and pollutes indoor air.”

More than 80 percent of tobacco-related deaths occur in low- or middle-income countries and tobacco-related deaths are expected to increase in low-income countries, the WHO said.

The agency pointed out that current taxation from tobacco -- around $270 billion a year -- could be increased by more than 50 percent.

Annual global health care costs associated with smoking are estimated at $422 billion, or $56.34 per person and the equivalent of 5.7 percent of total health spending worldwide.

The economic cost of tobacco stood at around $1 trillion per year, the WHO said, due to lost productivity due to illness and premature death.

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