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Smoking: An Avoidable Health Disaster Explained

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Defying progress

Efforts to discourage smoking have steadily reduced its prevalence from 27.8% of the global population in 1990 to 19.6% in 2019. However, the total number of people who smoke has actually increased over the same period, owing to population growth. In 2019, there were 1.14 billion smokers worldwide.

Credit: Nature; Infographic: Mohamed Ashour. Source: Ref. 1

Preventable deaths

More than one in ten deaths can be attributed to smoking. Most smoking-related deaths stem from one of just four non-communicable diseases (NCDs): ischaemic heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, stroke and cancer of the trachea, bronchi and lungs. Smoking causes one in six deaths from non-communicable diseases. 200 million years of healthy life were lost to disability and death in 2019 as a result of smoking.

Credit: Nature; Infographic: Mohamed Ashour. Source: Ref. 2

Economic strain

Direct health expenditure on smoking-related diseases, as well as indirect costs of smoking such as lost labour due to disability and death, cost the world more than US$1.4…



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