Deaths due to tobacco use are on the rise and one tobacco death is recorded every six seconds globally, says a new report released by WHO on Thursday.
Nearly five million people die each year worldwide and up to one billion people are projected to die in the 21st century due to tobacco use, according to WHO statistics.
"The five million deaths translate to an incredible statistic - one death every six seconds. Unless strong actions are taken to halt the tobacco epidemic, one billion people are projected to die this century - we cannot let this happen," said Ala Alwan, the WHO Assistant Director-General in charge of Non-Communicable Diseases and Mental Health, in the report. He urged all countries to implement the Convention on Tobacco Control.
Contrary to the general assumption, tobacco use is also attributed to deaths from communicable diseases. It causes five per cent of all deaths from communicable diseases worldwide and 14 per cent of deaths from non-communicable illnesses among adults, according to the WHO report titled Mortality Attributable to Tobacco.
"Although many people associate tobacco with non-communicable diseases such as cancers, heart and respiratory diseases, tobacco is also a major cause of communicable diseases - tuberculosis being a case in point where the disease is at times in latent or dormant state until activated by tobacco use," said Alwan.
The highest number of deaths is reported from the Americas and Europe where tobacco use is continuously on the rise.
Young adults in the age group of 30-44 are more vulnerable to tobacco related cardio-vascular diseases and lung cancer.