Saturday, April 21, 2018
Health

Smoking costs the world economy $1 trillion per year, World Health Organization says

Smoking and its side effects cost the world's economies more than $1 trillion and kill about 6 million people each year — with deaths expected to rise by more than a third by 2030, according to a new report from the World Health Organization and the National Cancer Institute.

Those losses exceed annual global revenue from tobacco taxes, estimated to be $269 billion in 2013-14, according to the report released Tuesday. Of that, less than $1 billion was invested in tobacco control.

The massive study called smoking one of the largest causes of preventable premature death in the world. And unless countries around the world begin putting more tobacco control policies in place, it warned, the ballooning consequences will become not just a global public health issue but an economic issue.

"The tobacco industry produces and markets products that kill millions of people prematurely, rob households of finances that could have been used for food and education, and impose immense health care costs on families, communities and countries," Oleg Chestnov, WHO's assistant director-general for noncommunicable diseases and mental health, said in a statement.

More than 60 authors — physicians, public health experts, researchers and other scientists — contributed to the report, which was peer-reviewed by more than 70 reviewers.

Most of those who suffer health problems from tobacco use live in developing countries, according to the report. With 80 percent of the world's 1.1 billion smokers living in low- and middle-income countries, the poor are disproportionately burdened by tobacco use, the report said.

To save lives, WHO recommended that countries adopt policies to control tobacco use, including taxing and raising the price of cigarettes, restricting marketing efforts.

Experts noted some of the strongest resistance to tobacco control policies have come from governments, who fear — whether genuinely or because of pressure from lobbyists — that limiting tobacco will hurt the economy.

The tobacco industry "will scare you that tobacco-control measures are anti-poor when in fact it's the overwhelming evidence is actually the opposite," Jeremiah Paul of the WHO's Tobacco Control Economics Unit said during a telephone call with reporters Tuesday.

Because of technological innovations and the shift from state-owned to private tobacco companies, the number of jobs that depend on tobacco has been falling in most countries, the report said.

"For the vast majority of countries, implementation of tobacco control measures will have only a modest impact on tobacco-related employment, and will not lead to net job losses," it read.

Press offices for major tobacco companies and American tobacco lobbyists did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday morning.

The National Association of Tobacco Outlets, which advocates for businesses that sell tobacco products, said in an email to the Post it "does not have a comment at this time."

In the United States, the smoking rate has declined to an all-time low of 15.1 percent — but cigarette smoking remains the "leading cause of preventable disease and death," according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Men are more likely to be smokers than women.

Still, the United States could be doing better, according to Frank Chaloupka, an economics and public health professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Chaloupka, who contributed to the report as one of its scientific editors, told reporters that the United States is one of about a dozen countries that has not yet ratified the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, adopted by the assembly in 2003.

"We have had some tax increases," Chaloupka said Tuesday," but taxes still account for far less than 50 percent of the retail price of (tobacco products) on average."

The country also lags behind on efforts to put more graphic warning labels and has weak limits on tobacco marketing, compared to other countries, the report noted.

"I wish that the U.S. was doing better than we're doing," Chaloupka said.

Comments
Do not eat any romaine lettuce, the CDC warns

Do not eat any romaine lettuce, the CDC warns

Public health officials are now telling consumers to avoid all types of romaine lettuce because of an E. coli outbreak linked to the vegetable that has spread to at least 16 states and sickened at least 60 people, including eight inmates at an Alask...
Published: 04/20/18
Florida hits a milestone: More than 100,000 people are registered to use medical marijuana here

Florida hits a milestone: More than 100,000 people are registered to use medical marijuana here

Florida has hit a milestone of sorts as it slowly moves toward wider availability of medical marijuana.The number of patients in the state who are registered to use the substance has surpassed 100,000 for the first time, according to Florida Departme...
Published: 04/20/18
Florida Hospital Carrollwood spending $17.5 million to expand emergency department

Florida Hospital Carrollwood spending $17.5 million to expand emergency department

Florida Hospital Carrollwood is expanding its emergency department. The hospital, 7171 North Dale Mabry Highway in Tampa, is spending $17.5 million to add 15 new private treatment rooms, new pediatric rooms and waiting areas, and new technology, acco...
Published: 04/18/18
Barbara Bush’s end-of-life decision stirs debate over ‘comfort care’

Barbara Bush’s end-of-life decision stirs debate over ‘comfort care’

As she nears death at age 92, former first lady Barbara Bush’s announcement that she is seeking "comfort care" is shining a light — and stirring debate — on what it means to stop trying to fight terminal illness.Bush, the wife of former President Geo...
Published: 04/17/18
Preparing for the worst, staffers at Johns Hopkins All Children’s learn through simulation

Preparing for the worst, staffers at Johns Hopkins All Children’s learn through simulation

When the patient got violent, Dr. Michelle Hidalgo didn’t have time to think. She had to react. The woman was moving strangely and seemed erratic. Hidalgo had to make a tough call — it was time to physically restrain her for everyone’s safety.Then th...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18

Lung cancer patients live longer with immune therapy

The odds of survival can greatly improve for people with the most common type of lung cancer if, along with the usual chemotherapy, they are also given a drug that activates the immune system, a major new study has shown.The findings should change me...
Published: 04/16/18
Thousands of pounds of prepackaged salad mixes may have been tainted with E. coli, officials say

Thousands of pounds of prepackaged salad mixes may have been tainted with E. coli, officials say

A Pennsylvania food manufacturer is recalling 8, 757 pounds of ready-to-eat salad products following an E. coli outbreak that has spread to several states and sickened dozens of people.Fresh food Manufacturing Co., based in Freedom, Pennsylvania, is ...
Published: 04/15/18
St. Anthony’s Cancer Center installs bell dedicated to survivors

St. Anthony’s Cancer Center installs bell dedicated to survivors

ST. PETERSBURGSister Mary McNally, vice president of mission at St. Anthony’s Hospital, stood in front of a room of cancer survivors to unveil a silver bell surrounded by butterfly stickers mounted to the wall of the Cancer Center lobby. "So often pe...
Published: 04/13/18
Hand dryers could leave your hands dirtier than you think

Hand dryers could leave your hands dirtier than you think

Washing your hands after you use the bathroom is a good idea. But using a public dryer could undo all that hard work, according to a new study.A study, published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology, examined 36 men’s and women’s bat...
Published: 04/13/18
Meek and Mighty Triathlon draws the young (siblings who are 7, 9 and 11) and not so young

Meek and Mighty Triathlon draws the young (siblings who are 7, 9 and 11) and not so young

The annual St. Anthony’s Triathlon has for years attracted elite athletes from around the world, making the St. Petersburg race one of the premier triathlon events in the country. There’s a big incentive to run fast, swim hard and be the best on a bi...
Published: 04/13/18