Smoking causing millions of heart attacks, strokes

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The use of Bidis account for a significant proportion of tobacco use.

The study by the "Foundation for a Smoke-Free World" stated that more than 104 million people in India continue to imperil their health by using combusted tobacco every day. An official statement issued on Thursday said that according to a new World Health Organization report tobacco use had declined since 2000, but the reduction was insufficient to meet globally agreed targets aimed at protecting people from death, cardiovascular diseases and other NCDs.

The World Health Organisation states that tobacco use is the largest cause of death and ailments such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung disease and other health problems.

The WHO said, "The tobacco epidemic was one of the biggest public health threats the world has ever faced, killing more than seven million people each year".

WHO Representative to the Philippines Dr. Gundo Weiler, meanwhile, said that tobacco use is not only affecting the smokers itself but also their families as well as the country's economy.

In China, for example, more than six out of 10 people are unaware that smoking can cause a heart attack.

Despite the apparent lack of progress in tackling the total number of smokers, the report highlights that only one in five people smoke today, compared to more than one in four, 18 years ago. About 2% of children aged 13-15 years (1.2 million) use smokeless tobacco products.

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Cancers, heart attacks, strokes and lung disease are the main diseases associated with tobacco.

A Chinese health department official said on May 28 that 180 million children in the country have been harmed by passive smoking and about 6.9 percent of all Chinese teenagers smoke. Around 80 percent of the smokers globally belong to low and middle income countries.

Tobacco use increases the risk of development of coronary heart disease, stroke and peripheral vascular disease.

Dr Douglas Bettcher, head of WHO's non-communicable disease prevention unit, said: 'Governments have the power in their hands to protect their citizens from suffering needlessly from heart disease'.

Quitting the habit is made more hard by the physical addiction to nicotine - the chemical stimulant in tobacco.

Tobacco contains over 4,000 harmful chemical compounds, exposure to some of which can raise the risk to a certain disease by at least 30 percent. The data shows that 42.4 per cent of men, 14.2 per cent of women and 28.6 per cent of all adults now either smoke and or use smokeless tobacco. The report shows that smokers are sacrificing their physical and economic well-being to smoke, even though many of them have the desire to quit. "Other steps include creating completely smoke-free indoor workplaces and public places, instituting hard-hitting warnings and graphic pictures about the dangers of smoking on cigarette packaging, and banning tobacco advertisement, promotion and sponsorship".

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