WHO: Tobacco kills 8 million each year; e-cigarettes, not a proven alternative
Robie de Guzman • May 30, 2019 • 3128
Tobacco kills eight million people each year, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Wednesday (May 29), ahead of World No Tobacco Day on Friday (May 31).
The WHO said 40 percent of tobacco victims die from lung diseases and about one million from second-hand smoke.
More than 60,000 children under 5 years old die of lower respiratory infections caused by second-hand smoke, WHO director for non-communicable diseases, Vinayak Prasad, said in a briefing.
“Out of these 8 million, we have about 3.3 million — about 40% — of these deaths, due to lung diseases. What are these lung diseases: cancers, chronic respiratory diseases, and even tuberculosis,” said WHO Department for the Prevention of Noncommunicable Diseases Director, Dr. Vinayak Prasad.
Globally, there are around 1.1 billion smokers.
Anti-tobacco campaigns and measures are bearing fruit, but mostly in high-income countries, Prasad said, while the smoking population remained constant or even increased in low-income countries, where the tobacco industry is now focusing sales efforts.
Prasad issued a caveat on e-cigarettes, saying there is no evidence proving they are a safer alternative to cigarettes, warning that it normalizes smoking and hooks young people.
“There is a perception that these are safe products and it is actually hitting the market and the group which is most vulnerable — children, teenage children…So it is a problem we are seeing in a number of countries now,” he said.
The WHO recommends that e-cigarettes be subjected to the same guidelines as for tobacco products, meaning non-smokers should be protected from second-hand smoke, pregnant women should be prohibited from using them, and advertising content must be regulated.
“These products (e-cigarettes) are not smokeless, these products are tobacco products, so there are two big things: one is these are tobacco products, and our recommendations as WHO (World Health Organization) is ‘please regulate them as tobacco products’. The claims that these are less harmful… We don’t know,” he said.
“There is no evidence to demonstrate that and therefore we follow the precautionary principle: take precautions, treat them as tobacco products, and regulate them, the way you regulate for other products,” he added.
Earlier this week, more than 100 public health and anti-tobacco organizations called on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to take swift action to curb advertising of tobacco products on their platforms.
This is after a Reuters report documented how cigarette maker Philip Morris International has used young personalities on Instagram to sell a new “heated tobacco” product called IQOS. (REUTERS)
Madrid – The coronavirus outbreak is not yet a global health emergency, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday.
“I am not declaring a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) today,” Director-General of the World Health Organization Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Twitter.
“For the moment, WHO does not recommend any broader restrictions on travel or trade.
“We recommend exit screening at airports as part of a comprehensive set of containment measures,” he added.
This announcement comes after three Chinese cities with a total population of around 18 million people had been put on lockdown Thursday in a bid to prevent the spread of the deadly coronavirus as hundreds of millions prepare to travel across the country to celebrate the new year.
China’s National Health Commission on Thursday published detailed information about the 17 mortal victims of the disease, which include 13 men and 4 women aged between 48 and 89.
Chinese state TV said there were now over 600 confirmed cases within the country.
Authorities closed down public transport and urged people to stay at home in Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak and the capital of Hubei province with a population of 11 million.
They later implemented similar measures in neighboring cities of Huanggang and Ezhou, which are separated by the Yangtze River and have populations of six and one million respectively.
Airlines in South Korea and Japan, where cases of the virus have also been detected, also halted outbound flights to China’s seventh largest city.
Singapore authorities confirmed a new case — a 66 years-old man with Chinese nationality who arrive in the city from Wuhan on January 20.
The coronavirus outbreak had already sparked even worries within the country, which is just a four-and-a-half hour flight from Wuhan.
The United Arab Emirates announced Thursday that Dubai airport will start screening passengers coming from China.
“Dubai International Airport will conduct thermal screening measures on passengers on direct flights from China,” Dubai Media Office posted to Twitter.
The Dubai airport, one of the world’s busiest, received in 2019 a total of 3.7 million Chinese visitors.
It said is prepared to welcome “the thousands of Chinese passengers anticipated to arrive at the airport during the Chinese New Year (25 January) festivities.”
Two days after the US authorities had confirmed the first case of coronavirus in Washington state, Canada Health Minister Patty Hajdu informed that several people in Canada were under observation for pneumonia signs although the risk remained low in the country.
“At this point, there has not been a positive case in Canada,” Hajdu said. “The risk is low to Canadians.”
In other countries, the risk remains low, although Mexico and Brazil confirmed several suspected cases.
Health officials reported three new possible cases on Thursday, a woman, a man and a 2-year-old child from Tepatitlan, Jalisco.
The Brazilian government declared the Level 1 health alert due to the possible arrival of the coronavirus to the country since authorities had ruled out five suspected cases of the disease.
An Emergency Operations Center was installed to monitor the risk, according to official sources.
The symptoms of the new coronavirus, originating in Wuhan and provisionally named 2019-nCoV by the World Health Organization (WHO), in many cases seems like a cold, but include fever and fatigue, dry cough and dyspnea (shortness of breath).
The new coronavirus sometimes referred to as Wuhan pneumonia, is similar to the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) that in 2002-2003 killed more than 700 people. EFE-EPA
Beijing – China’s health commission confirmed Tuesday that transmission between humans of the new coronavirus – which has already caused four deaths and infected more of 200 people in the country – is possible, according to state news agency Xinhua.
Zhong Nanshan, who leads the commission’s team of experts, said at least two patients in the southern province of Canton had contracted the virus through human contact.
“Patients became infected after their relatives traveled to Wuhan [a city of 11 million inhabitants and source of the outbreak] and became infected,” Zhong said.
The latest death, confirmed Tuesday, was that of an 89-year-old man who was hospitalized Friday. The expert added that several health workers had also been infected.
However, Zhong said it only took two weeks to identify the new virus and that a situation such as the one that occurred during 2003’s Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) epidemic is unlikely. SARS caused 813 deaths worldwide, 646 of which were in China.
According to the United Nations health agency, between 14-15 percent of SARS cases end in death, while in the case of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), a related disease also caused by a coronavirus, the mortality rate rises to 35 percent.
So far, there are only six types of this family of viruses known: four of them causing mild respiratory conditions similar to a cold, and the other two responsible for SARS and MERS.
The number of confirmed infections Tuesday morning in China was down to 198, after 25 patients recovered. Thirty-five are in serious condition, while nine are critical. Two other cases have also been confirmed in Thailand, one in South Korea and one in Japan.
The respiratory disease expert explained that the constant detection of new cases indicates that “the epidemic is still at an early stage,” according to Xinhua.
Zhong said increased transmissions are likely the coming days, as Friday marks the start of Chinese New Year holidays – which cause the planet’s largest human migration – but was confident in containing the virus’ spread with rapid diagnoses, proper treatment and quarantine.
Chinese Premier Xi Jinping said Monday he expected the virus to be contained “with determination,” while Prime Minister Li Keqiang announced the creation of a group dedicated to fighting the illness.
The World Health Organization will hold a meeting of experts Wednesday to determine whether the current coronavirus outbreak in China constitutes an international emergency. EFE-EPA
Aklan, Philippines – The Provincial Health Office (PHO) in Kalibo is currently on red alert status as three Chinese nationals were reportedly quarantined after they were suspected of having contracted the new SARS-like pneumonia virus.
The three were admitted at the Dr. Rafael S. Tumbukon Memorial Hospital (DRSMTH).
Aklan PHO’s Dr. Cornelio Cuahon said that first to be put under hospital quarantine was a 29-year-old Chinese national on January 17.
The second was a three-year-old girl on January 18, while the third was a 65-year-old who was tagged after landing at Kalibo airport this Monday.
The Bureau of Quarantine stationed at the Kalibo International Airport (KLO) reportedly spotted the three Chinese nationals as they arrived from different provinces of China.
The KLO has direct flights coming from different parts of China.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said the virus belongs to the same family of coronaviruses like the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) which have killed nearly 800 people worldwide in the 2002 outbreak that also started in China.
This prompted the WHO and health leaders to step up efforts to contain the new-found virus which reportedly emerged in Wuhan province in December 2019.
Authorities are concerned that the virus might spread to other countries as Chinese citizens tend to travel domestically and abroad as they celebrate the Lunar New Year break which will begin next week. /mbmf
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