(NaturalNews) Tobacco use might be on the decline in the U.S. and other Western nations, but China is picking up the slack in a major way, according to a new report by the World Lung Foundation (WLF). With the average Chinese person over age 15 now smoking almost 2,250 cigarettes annually, Big Tobacco is said to be raking in an astounding $7,000 per tobacco-related death, based on the collective profits earned from cigarette sales.
The report estimates that, in 2014, more than 5.8 trillion cigarettes were smoked globally. A substantial percentage of this number represents Chinese smokers, who make up the fastest growing smoking demographic in the world. Based on data from the WLF and the American Cancer Society, the tobacco industry took a profit of $44 billion in 2013, the year for which the latest revenue figures are available.
Based on the roughly 6.3 million tobacco-related deaths that occurred during the same year, the WLF concluded that Big Tobacco pulls in about $7,000 in profit for each person that dies from tobacco use. And if current trends continue, claims the report, 1 billion people will die from smoking and tobacco use this century.
“Among the top six transnational tobacco companies – accounting for 85% of all cigarettes smoked globally – profits have reached US$44.1 billion or around US$7,000 for every tobacco-related death, up from US$6,000 per death when the last edition of The Atlas was published in 2012,” explains LaboratoryEquipment.com.
“Tobacco use costs the global economy over US$1 trillion according to The Atlas and may have an economic impact of as much as US$2.1 trillion according to other sources.”
Big Tobacco targets Asia, Africa and the Middle East as smoking rates decline in Europe and the EU
In many areas of the world, tobacco laws that prohibit smoking in bars and airing tobacco-related advertising on billboards and on television has resulted in significant declines in tobacco use. But in emerging areas such as China and Africa, tobacco use is on the rise as Big Tobacco fights to stay afloat in the global market.
The WLF report explains that, while 90% of the world’s population lives in countries that have ratified Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) measures to curb tobacco use, only 10% of these are covered by comprehensive tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship bans. Similarly, only 16% are covered by comprehensive smoke-free laws.
Presently, the tobacco industry is aggressively targeting developing economies in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East to make up for lost ground in North America and Europe. Many of these regions lack comprehensive anti-tobacco legislation, making them ripe for exploitation by major industry players like Philip Morris International.
“All forms of tobacco use disproportionately burden the poorest and increase socioeconomic health inequalities,” adds the report. “Increased tobacco use in Africa in recent years means lung cancer is now the most common cause of premature death among men.”
Nearly half of tobacco leaf-producing countries have undernourishment rates exceeding 10%
Sadly, in 12 of the 25 top tobacco leaf-producing countries, tobacco cultivation co-exists alongside undernourishment rates that exceed 10% — this means that people are starving while arable land that could be growing food is growing tobacco plants instead. These countries include Zimbabwe at 31%, Tanzania at 33%, Mozambique at 37% and Zambia at 43%.
“Governments should ignore tobacco industry threats and enact and enforce comprehensive tobacco control measures at the highest levels of best practice,” concludes the report. “Greater use should be made of mass and social media to educate, inform, and encourage quitting.”
The full report is available through TobaccoAtlas.org.
Written by Ethan A. Huff
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