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Report Reveals Inextricable Links Between Tobacco and Tuberculosis

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

(March 24, 2011, New York, NY) – Coinciding with World TB Day, World Lung Foundation today issued a white paper exploring the links between tuberculosis and tobacco use. The paper, entitled “Directions: The Deadly Pairing of Tuberculosis and Smoking,” is a meta-study of research from around the world which demonstrates for the first time that tobacco is a major risk factor for TB. The paper also outlines recommendations for how tobacco control can be integrated into TB control programs.

According to author Dr. Neil Schluger, WLF Chief Scientific Officer, tobacco use makes TB worse at every stage. First, smoking or being exposed to secondhand smoke means an individual is more likely to become infected with TB. Second, tobacco users who have dormant TB are significantly more likely to develop the active form of the disease and, third, they are much more likely to die from TB. What’s more, children are shown to be particularly vulnerable to the combined threats of tobacco and TB.

Dr. Schluger says: “There is a historic neglect of tobacco as a risk factor in TB research and treatment, as most efforts to-date have been focused on links to poverty, poor nutrition and AIDS. However, when we examined and cross-referenced all the available research on this topic, we can see clearly that the more a person smokes, and the longer he or she smokes, the greater at risk that person is for TB.”

“What’s more, we also know that smokers who quit are less likely to become infected or die from TB. Therefore, implementing tobacco control and smoking cessation measures would reduce the burden and cost of TB among smokers and non-smokers alike.”

“The Deadly Pairing of Tuberculosis and Smoking” is available to read and download from