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The 21st century's No. 1 death threat.


A World Health Organization study just presented at the World Conference on Tobacco and Health in Perth, Australia, predicts that by the turn of the century, smoking will be the foremost cause of death throughout the world.

The study, conducted by a WMO statistician, Alan Lopez, and an Oxford University epidemiologist, Richard Peto, estimates that in the next 25 years more than half a billion persons will have died from smoking if present smoking patterns continue. Of these 500 million, 200 million persons currently younger than age 20 will die by the year 2015, and the rate will reach 28,000 deaths a day ! Although most of the deaths during the next 10 years will occur in the well-to-do countries, by 2025 the pattern will have reversed, with 70 percent of deaths from smoking occurring in the least developed countries. Given the fact that export sales of tobacco account for the most rapidly growing segment of the American tobacco industry, and that the targeted group in the Third World is young people, it would appear that the U.S. may soon become Public Enemy No. 1 to the next generation in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Our great erstwhile Surgeon General, Dr. C. Everett Koop, was outspoken on this subject, and his successor, Dr. Antonia Novello, is equally so and deserves our wholehearted support in her efforts to remove this blight from our national conscience. To many of us it seems incredible that we expect impoverished Colombian natives to row something in place of their only lucrative cash crop, coca leaves, yet we continue to provide subsidies to our own tobacco farmers instead of providing them with the means of raising other crops.
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Title Annotation:smoking
Publication:Medical Update
Date:May 1, 1990
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