Passive smoking kills 600,000 people annually

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WHO global study: secondhand smoke kills over 600,000 people annually. Over five million people die from active smoking every year.

According to international surveys by the World Health Organization (WHO), around 600,000 people die each year from the effects of passive smoking. Smokers are aware of the dangers of cigarette smoke, but non-smokers are just as exposed to health risks as smokers. In the public debate, the consequences for non-smokers are played down again and again. The new WHO data show that children, in particular, are excessively affected by parents' cigarette consumption.

Over five million people die each year from cigarette consumption According to a WHO study, around five million people worldwide die every day from cigarette smoke. About 600,000 people are killed, although they themselves are non-smokers, but they also breathe in the harmful smoke of smokers. Particularly frightening in this context are the effects of unintentionally inhaling cigarette smoke in children. According to the study, around 165,000 children die from passive smoking every year. Children can escape the smoke of their parents particularly badly if their parents also smoke at home. According to the health study, 71 children die in the western industrialized countries of Europe every year because their closer social environment smokes. Children simply cannot escape the blue haze because they still have too few options to escape the harmful smoke. For the first time, the WHO, in collaboration with the Swedish Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, created a global study on the health effects of smoking and secondhand smoke.

Children are particularly badly affected The WHO scientists support their findings from data collection from a total of 192 countries. The data are from 2004. According to the analysis, 40 percent of children worldwide, 33 of male non-smokers and 35 percent of non-smokers worldwide were exposed to tobacco use in 2004. Passive smoke killed nearly 379,000 people from heart conditions such as heart attacks, 165,000 from respiratory diseases, 36,900 from asthma and 21,400 people from lung cancer. According to the WHO, the deaths of passive smokers should be added to the estimated 5.1 million smokers who die each year from the effects of the toxins. According to this, 40 percent of children and around a third of adults who do not smoke are constantly surrounded by the dangerous cigarette smoke.

The scientists could not find a serious difference between the consequences of death for adults in the rich industrial countries and the poorer so-called "Third World". However, the experts could make a difference with the children. Children are particularly at risk of health problems in developing countries in Africa and Asia. According to the study authors, this is due to the fact that respiratory infections and tobacco form a serious “deadly combination” in these regions. Pollution and cigarette consumption increase in a dangerous way. In view of these dramatic effects, health experts are calling for the WHO conventions in the fight against tobacco consumption to be implemented worldwide as soon as possible. Such measures include, for example, significantly higher tobacco taxes, a complete ban on advertising and anti-smoking campaigns.

Non-smoking protection laws show first effects In the course of the data analysis, the WHO experts found that positive effects can be clearly measured in the countries where non-smoking protection laws were enacted. Non-smoking protection zones have been enacted in some European countries. For example, people are not allowed to smoke in public buildings, at work or in restaurants. The damage to health in these countries is much lower than in countries where such regulations do not apply. The general ban on smoking in pubs, restaurants and bars is particularly effective. Originally, there was a lot of smoking in the same places. The ban reduced the burden on non-smokers by a whopping 90 percent. The legal regulations also have a positive effect on smokers. You yourself are also less exposed to smoke and automatically smoke less. Such regulations have been in force in Germany since 2007.

Non-smoking protection laws can reduce expenditure in the health care system But in the global context, such regulations are rarely made. Just 7.4 percent of the world's population benefit from the protection laws. All other people are still exposed to the toxic smoke everywhere. Politics must finally act, the WHO urged. Those in power in the world should bear in mind that the number of deaths can be significantly reduced if non-smoking laws are introduced. The experts suspect that these new regulations will become noticeable after only one year. The mortality rate can be reduced and expenditures for social and health systems are significantly reduced.

Children in particular must be protected from the health risks. Children are a particular focus at WHO. They cannot defend themselves and therefore also need the protection of society. For this reason, the WHO researchers are calling for further efforts in the fight against smoke. Parents need to be increasingly informed that passive smoking, especially in their own four walls, causes great harm to children. Smoking bans in public spaces cannot prevent children from being exposed to harmful smoke every day. For this reason, new information campaigns would have to be started continuously to protect children's health. It would be best if parents quit smoking immediately. To raise the ambition to quit, significantly higher tobacco taxes are a good start. The evaluations of the study were published in the journal "The Lancet".

Indirect connection hardly examined In numerous other health studies, the topic of passive smoking has already been taken up. For example, researchers at the German Center found that the risk of developing type II diabetes is significantly increased if people are continuously exposed to the cigarette smoke of a smoker. An American study has also found that children, in particular, are more likely to develop otitis media when they grow up in a smoking household. It can be assumed that the consequences of passive smoking are far higher than mentioned in the WHO report. It is usually difficult to prove that the illnesses were caused by smoking, because no direct connection can be identified.

4000 toxins in a cigarette If a cigarette is smoked, a main current smoke arises from the embers at a temperature of around 950 degrees, in which around 4000 substances are released. A large number of the substances have been proven to be carcinogenic or are at least suspected of causing cancer. The sidestream smoke, i.e. the smoke between two trains, is considered to be even more dangerous because the slightly lower combustion temperature means that the amount of toxins is even higher. For this reason, passive smokers in particular are at increased risk to health. (sb)

Also read:
Special form of lung cancer in smokers
Frequent otitis media from passive smoking?
Passive smoking increases the risk of diabetes

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