Tobacco: A Huge Global Cancer Risk

By David Sampson

For public health experts, there’s more than a little irony in the fact that perhaps the biggest threat to human health globally is heavily marketed around the world by one of the most successful industries that exists: tobacco.

This week, the 16th World Conference on Tobacco OR Health refocused the world’s attention on tobacco, which has been called the worst global epidemic in history. The American Cancer Society’s notable contribution (with our colleagues at the World Lung Foundation) is The Tobacco Atlas, Fifth Edition, which graphically and dramatically details the financial and deadly price we pay.

Accompanying the release of the report is this interview with Jeffrey Drope, Ph.D., ACS co-author. Writer Elizabeth Mendes asks Dr. Drope what fact surprised him most when putting together the Tobacco Atlas:

a�?One of the most disturbing negative findings was the fact that now more girls than boys use tobacco products in 24 countries, compared to only 2 countries where prevalence is higher for women. This suggests to me a massive and apparently successful effort by the tobacco industry to market specifically to young girls. As not only a breathing person, but also the father of two daughters, I object strenuously to these malevolent efforts.a�?

Elizabeth also asked Dr. Drope:

a�?Are there any countries that are doing everything right when it comes to tobacco control?a�?

a�?No country is doing everything right, but there are some notable high performersa��.a�?

Those high performers include Australia, Ireland, and the Philippines.

Another co-author, Alex Liber, MSPH, offers ten surprising numbers about tobacco. Among them: