By now, we know that tobacco kills more than half of those who regularly use it and has a two-trillion-dollar (PPP) economic cost to society each year. Fortunately, the global community is making progress toward improving tobacco control. The efforts of governments, civil society and the international community, including through the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), are having life-saving effects in many countries. Recently, overall global tobacco consumption has even decreased slightly. However, we continue to contend with the reality that many countries with young populations are experiencing growing prevalence as the tobacco industry’s tactics continually undermine public health efforts.
This sixth edition of the Tobacco Atlas and its companion website— tobaccoatlas.org —bring readers and users an exciting and comprehensive guide to key tobacco control issues. It weaves together two related narratives: the bleak reality of the damage that tobacco causes even before it sprouts from the ground, and an optimistic examination of the evidence-based tools that we’re using to address this reality, which could be further enhanced through more effective implementation.
We begin the narrative with cultivation of tobacco leaf, the foundation of every tobacco product. Here commences an enduring narrative of ill health and exploitation, in this case of the millions of mostly poor smallholder tobacco farmers. The tobacco industry turns the leaf into a variety of deadly tobacco products— most commonly cigarettes— and aggressively markets them, particularly to young people and other potentially vulnerable groups. In recent years, seeing opportunities in the lower prevalence among women and girls, and in many countries/regions low on the human development index (HDI) (Pop-out for HDI explanation), the industry has tailored its marketing efforts in this direction. It also continues to target many vulnerable populations in all countries. Accordingly, we explore global smoking and secondhand smoke prevalence followed by their results: adverse health effects, comorbidities, deaths from tobacco, and the broader costs to society.