November 26, 2010 / 12:14 AM / 7 years ago

Factbox: Tobacco - One of the world's biggest health threats

(Reuters) - Passive smoking kills an estimated 600,000 people a year worldwide, which means it accounts for around one percent of all deaths, World Health Organization researchers said in a study on Friday.

Here are some facts about tobacco’s impact on health:

TOBACCO

* Tobacco kills up to half of its users. The World Health Organization describes tobacco use as “one of the biggest public health threats the world has ever faced.”

* The annual death toll linked to tobacco is more than five million, and could rise to more than eight million by 2030 unless action is taken to control the tobacco epidemic.

* More than 80 percent of the world’s one billion smokers live in low- and middle-income countries.

* Total consumption of tobacco products is increasing globally, although it is decreasing in some wealthier nations.

* There are more than 4,000 chemicals in tobacco smoke, of which at least 250 are known to be harmful and more than 50 are known to cause cancer.

SECOND-HAND SMOKE

* Second-hand smoke can cause various serious illnesses in adults, including cardiovascular and respiratory diseases like coronary heart disease and lung cancer. In babies, it can cause sudden death and in pregnant women low birth weight.

* Second-hand smoke causes 600,000 premature deaths per year.

* Only 7.4 percent of the world population currently lives in jurisdictions with comprehensive smoke-free laws, and those laws are not always robustly enforced.

* Almost half of children regularly breathe air polluted by tobacco smoke and more than 40 percent of children have at least one smoking parent.

SOURCE: World Health Organization/Reuters

Compiled by Kate Kelland, editing by Ralph Boulton

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