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Tobacco Control Is Global Challenge, WHO Director Says

their fields. We are not blaming those thousands who work in tobacco plants because it is the best -- or the only -- steady job in their hometown. We do care about their future livelihood in our fight against tobacco."

With current smoking patterns, some 500 million people alive today will eventually be killed by tobacco, she said. "Worldwide mortality from tobacco is likely to rise from about 4 million deaths a year in 1998 to about 10 million a year in 2030," over 70 percent in the developing world. "By 2020, smoking will cause about one in three of all adult deaths, up from one in six adult deaths in 1990,"she said.

"The tobacco epidemic is a communicated disease. It is communicated through advertising, through the example of smokers and through the smoke to which non-smokers -- especially children -- are exposed. Our job is to immunize people against this epidemic," she said. To change the trends, Dr. Brundtland noted, "We need to get smokers to quit and non-smokers not to pick up the addictive habit."

Dr. Brundtland asked the assembled leaders to act against tobacco. "Those actions, both personal and official, will decide if tobacco shall claim new millions of victims in your home countries. Those actions will help prevent the cost of treating hundreds of thousands of cancer and heart disease patients from breaking the back of your health systems in the coming decades," she said.


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Contact: Daniel Epstein
epsteind@paho.org
202-974-3459
Pan American Health Organization
18-Mar-1999


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