Saturday, March 7, 2015

Stymied by Less Smoking in Richer Countries, Big Tobacco Shifts Focus on Developing Countries

Anti-tobacco demonstrators in Brazil demand implementation of the national Tobacco Control Law. Credit: Aliança de Controle do Tabagismo
This was originally published by Global Health TV on March 2, 2015.

Between 1990 and 2009, cigarette consumption decreased by 26% in Western Europe, but in Africa and the Middle East, it increased 57%, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). In response, many of these developing countries are stepping up their efforts to fight tobacco with new laws and restrictions. Big Tobacco is using its deep pockets to finance creative attempts to circumvent those laws.

The problem is so daunting that ACS named rising use of tobacco in developing countries as one of it “Three Top Cancer Challenges of the 21st Century” earlier this month when it observed World Cancer Day. Comedian John Oliver covered the issue very well in this segment from his HBO show “Last Week Tonight.”

An estimated 8 million of the 14.1 million new cancer cases diagnosed in 2012 occurred in developing countries with 82% of the world’s population, according to Global Cancer Facts & Figures, 3rd Edition. Smoking causes at least 12 types of cancer, according to the U.S. Surgeon General, and accounts for a fifth of all global cancer deaths. Tobacco use is the cause of nearly 6 million premature deaths annually, notes the report.