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Press Room

Calls for Stronger Warnings About the Dangers of Tobacco to Heart Health

Note: World Lung Foundation united with The Union North America. From January 2016, the combined organization is known as “Vital Strategies.”

(April 20, 2012, New York, USA) – World Lung Foundation today welcomed a new report published by World Heart Federation, World Health Organization and the International Tobacco Control Project on public awareness of the risks of tobacco use and second hand smoke to heart health. The report, entitled “Cardiovascular harms from tobacco use and secondhand smoke: Global gaps in awareness and implications for action,” shows that in a number of countries, more than half of smokers are unaware that smoking causes stroke or that secondhand smoke causes heart disease. World Lung Foundation asserts that governments have evidence-based tools at their disposal to change this situation.

Sandra Mullin, Senior Vice President, Policy and Communications, World Lung Foundation commented, “Tobacco causes heart disease, plain and simple. That so many people do not know about these harms is a reflection of successful deception by tobacco companies and a failure of governments to adequately warn people of the damage tobacco causes.

“The good news is that governments have cost-effective options to change the situation. Many countries have implemented mass media campaigns that have proven successful in linking tobacco use and secondhand smoke to cardiovascular disease. These adverts can be licensed and tailored at little cost to taxpayers. It also costs very little to improve the warnings smokers see on cigarette packaging. A smoker might take a cigarette pack out of their bag or pocket – and look at it – 20 times every day, meaning that there is a significant opportunity to send a clear, graphic message about tobacco’s harms.”

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of mortality in the world today, and is responsible for more than five million deaths each year—one in ten preventable deaths worldwide. The implementation of graphic pack warnings and mass media campaigns are two of the main commitments under the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). It is one of the World Health Organization’s M-P-O-W-E-R (W=Warn) strategies to reduce tobacco consumption. MPOWER strategies are endorsed and promoted by the Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use, of which World Lung Foundation is a principal partner.