Note: World Lung Foundation united with The Union North America. From January 2016, the combined organization is known as “Vital Strategies.”
(Mexico City, Mexico) – Today, the American Cancer Society and World Lung Foundation presented the Spanish version of The Tobacco Atlas, Third Edition, which is now available globally. The book offers maps and graphics to illustrate a wide range of international tobacco issues, exposes the behavior of the tobacco industry, and predicts the future course of the epidemic globally, including the Latin America region. It also offers solutions to curbing the global usage of tobacco.
It is estimated that there are more than 1 billion smokers in the world, half of whom will eventually die from a tobacco-related illness. The Tobacco Atlas highlights the global damage of tobacco consumption, drawing from the latest available data on Mexico and other countries. The book is a tool to help civil society and governments take decisive action to reduce the harms of tobacco, such as lung cancer, stroke, emphysema, low birth weight, and sudden infant death syndrome.
Nearly 15 million people smoke in Mexico, making it one of the top 20 countries in terms of smoking population, with about three times as many male smokers as female smokers. Tobacco-related diseases are among the most preventable causes of mortality in the country; in 2005, ischemic heart disease was the second largest cause of death, cardiovascular disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease were the fourth and fifth causes of death respectively, and cancer of trachea, bronchus, and lung was the 13th cause of death.(1)
According to The Tobacco Atlas, tobacco use also costs Mexico $627 million per year in health-care expenditures, employee absenteeism, reduced labor productivity, lost tax opportunities, and premature death.
Mexico has shown substantial progress in tobacco control. It was the first country in the Americas to ratify the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), the world's first public health treaty. In 2008, it passed a federal tobacco control law, which included provisions on smoke-free public places, strengthened bans on advertising and sponsorship and mandated pictorial health warnings, which will come into effect later this year. In the same year, Mexico City passed a 100% smoke-free law, making it the largest smoke-free city in the Americas. (2)
“Mexico should be congratulated for its commitment to tobacco control and for taking significant steps to reduce tobacco consumption and prevent smoking initiation. The Tobacco Atlas is crucial to understanding the nature of the most preventable disease epidemic in Mexico and throughout Latin America,” said John R. Seffrin, Ph.D., chief executive officer, American Cancer Society. “Because Mexicans smoke fewer cigarettes per day in comparison to other nations, evidence-based cessation programs could be even more effective.”
“One of the most important aspects of tobacco control is informing government and the public about the dangers of tobacco and the clear policy steps that can prevent millions of deaths,” said Peter Baldini, chief executive officer, World Lung Foundation. “The Tobacco Atlas is an excellent tool for such information and we are pleased we could help bring it to Latin America via Mexico, which has already shown leadership in addressing the tobacco epidemic.”
Consumption of tobacco can cause serious economic losses – about US $500 billion globally.
- Because 25 percent of smokers die and many more become ill during their most productive years, income lost devastates families and communities.
- Cigarettes are the world's most widely smuggled legal consumer product. In 2006, about 600 billion smuggled cigarettes made it to the market, representing an enormous missed tax opportunity for governments. According to The Tobacco Atlas, in Latin America, illicit trade comprises 20 percent of the market.
- Tobacco replaces potential food production on almost 4 million hectares of the world's agricultural land, equal to all of the world's orange groves or banana plantations.
- In developing countries, smokers spend disproportionate sums of money relative to their incomes that could otherwise be spent on food, healthcare and other necessities. The poorest 20 percent of households in Mexico spend more than 10 percent of their household income on tobacco.(3)
The Tobacco Atlas also crystallizes an undeniable trend: the tobacco industry is exacerbating these negative health and economic effects by aggressively promoting their products. Tobacco companies are shifting from traditional advertising to point-of-sale promotions, and are using deceptive and subliminal forms of advertising, particularly through brand placement. Mexico continues to be a target of the industry; a search of the Legacy Web site of tobacco industry documents generated more than 100,000 documents relating to Mexico.