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World Heart Federation Calls on Cardiologists To Lead Fight Against Tobacco Use

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

(Beijing, China) – At the World Congress of Cardiology (WCC) in Beijing, China, the World Heart Federation strongly urged cardiologists to ensure that patients and policymakers understand the devastating impact of tobacco on heart health, and called upon cardiologists to take action to reduce tobacco use and exposure.

Cardiovascular disease is the leading global cause of death, accounting for 29 per cent of deaths worldwide. And, tobacco use is a major cause of cardiovascular disease.

“Tobacco is among the world's most important risk factors for cardiovascular disease and while many people know that tobacco use causes lung cancer and other respiratory diseases, fewer people know that it causes cardiovascular disease,” said Sidney C. Smith, Jr. M.D, President Elect, World Heart Federation. “Getting people with heart disease to stop smoking and avoid exposure to secondhand smoke improves outcomes as much or more than any single medical treatment that we can offer. We are strongly urging cardiologists to take action to reduce their patients' and communities' use of tobacco and to help them avoid the danger of exposure to secondhand smoke.”

Specifically, the World Heart Federation calls upon cardiologists and other health care professionals to:

  • Stop smoking themselves and encourage their colleagues to do the same
  • Approach tobacco dependence as a chronic disease, not a lifestyle choice
  • Treat tobacco dependence as a chronic disease, and ensure that tobacco use is treated as aggressively as other cardiovascular risk factors such as hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and diabetes
  • Ensure that treatment for tobacco dependence is widely available
  • Support 100 per cent smoke-free environments in all public places, especially the hospitals, medical facilities and universities where they work

These and other points of action were articulated in the statement, Warning: Secondhand Smoke is Hazardous to Your Heart, which was launched at the WCC along with a film of the same name. The statement and film were developed by the Global Smokefree Partnership in a project involving the Roswell Park Cancer Centre, the United States Centres for Disease Control, the World Heart Federation and the World Lung Foundation, and made possible by funding from the Flight Attendant's Medical Research Institute. Judith Mackay of the World Lung Foundation, long-time champion of tobacco control, underlined the importance of physicians providing role models for smoke-free lives.

Highlighting the power of comprehensive tobacco control policy to improve global health, Haik Nikogosian, Head of the Secretariat of the World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, the first international public health treaty, commented “The Framework Convention is a unique, novel legal instrument that offers a new dimension to international health cooperation. Now is the time to use it fully to reduce the toll of heart disease and the many other severe health consequences of tobacco use.”