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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Tobacco to Kill Once Every Three Seconds

Every 10 seconds, somewhere in the world, tobacco kills another victim. If current smoking trends continue, this toll will increase up to one tobacco-caused death every three seconds over the next 30 to 40 years.

Recent World Health Organization data have confirmed that the risks of smoking are higher than previously thought.

With prolonged smoking, smokers have a death rate about three times higher than nonsmokers at all ages.

Tobacco products have no safe level of consumption and researchers have rated nicotine as even more addictive than heroin, cocaine, marijuana or alcohol.

There have been noticeable differences in smoking trends among WHO regions. Over the last decade, the fastest decline in per capita consumption occurred in the Americas. On the other hand, increasing consumption in the Western Pacific (2.2 percent) and South-East Asia (1.8 percent) is primarily due to the trends in China and India respectively.

WHO estimates that there are about 1.1 billion regular smokers in the world. About 300 million are in developed countries, with nearly three times as many in developing countries. The health consequences of the smoking epidemic in developed countries have been quantified by WHO, in close collaboration with the Imperial Cancer Research Fund's Cancer Studies Unit at Oxford university. Between 1950 and 2000, it is estimated that smoking will have caused about 62 million deaths in the developed countries. The health consequences of tobacco use are much more difficult to estimate in developing countries owing to lack of data.

-- Information compiled by the World Health Organization.