The critical role of research in tobacco control
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Research and monitoring for tobacco control programmes are crucial to counter the continually changing strategies the tobacco industry employs to sell its deadly products, contends Priscilla Reddy.
Tobacco is the second-leading cause of death and disability in the world after high blood pressure. The World Health Organization estimates that in 2012, tobacco killed six million people worldwide, of whom 600 000 were non-smokers, by inhaling environmental tobacco smoke.
Tobacco does not only shorten a smoker's life by an average 10 years, it also causes suffering and disability during life because it is a major risk factor for heart attacks and heart failure, strokes, chronic bronchitis, diabetes, lung cancer and tuberculosis - the leading cause of death in South Africa.
There is also an economic cost in terms of the number of days smokers take off work due to sickness, the cost of treating sufferers of tobacco-related disease, and the loss to the economy by the premature deaths of economically active citizens.
The human suffering and economic losses caused by tobacco therefore vastly outweigh any economic benefits from job creation in growing or marketing tobacco, or sponsorship from tobacco companies.