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DEVELOPMENT REPORT – November 11, 2002: WHO Tobacco Atlas - 2002-11-08

This is the VOA Special English Development Report.

The World Health Organization has released a new report on smoking tobacco. It is called the “Tobacco Atlas.” The study says that five-hundred-sixty people die every hour from smoking tobacco. That is more than thirteen-thousand people each day, or almost five-million people every year.

W-H-O officials say the Tobacco Atlas is the first of its kind for the health industry. They say it will help educate people and policy makers about the health problems tobacco has created for the world’s population.

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention helped produce the Tobacco Atlas. It includes many colorful pictures, maps and images to help explain difficult information.

World Health Organization officials say this will help readers understand the facts and use them effectively. Similarities and differences among countries are presented. There is also information about the risks from tobacco to individual health. And there is information about what governments must pay to fight the illegal transport of tobacco into their countries.

Judith Mackay was one of the writers of the Tobacco Atlas. She says that tobacco is doing the most damage in developing countries, especially those in Asia. In China, for example, she says about seven-hundred-fifty-thousand people die each year from tobacco. Around the world, fifty percent of young smokers will die from tobacco-related causes. Doctor Mackay warns the problem will worsen over time.

Doctor Mackay hopes that policy makers will use the Tobacco Atlas as they begin to consider national and international restrictions on tobacco. Officials from W-H-O member states met recently in Geneva, Switzerland to discuss the issue. They hope to have an agreement on tobacco control ready for W-H-O approval by May of next year. The agreement could include a ban on advertisements for smoking and higher taxes on tobacco.

The W-H-O says tobacco smoking may kill more than eight-million people a year by the year two-thousand-twenty if control measures are not put in place soon. Experts say more than seventy percent of the deaths will be in developing countries.

This VOA Special English Development Report was written by Jill Moss.