UNITED NATIONS, May 30 (Xinhua) -- Tobacco use kills more than 7 million people each year, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Tuesday, spotlighting for the first time the dire environmental impact of tobacco production, distribution and waste.
"Tobacco threatens us all," WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said in a statement. "Tobacco exacerbates poverty, reduces economic productivity, contributes to poor household food choices, and pollutes indoor air."
Action to stamp out tobacco use can help countries prevent millions of people falling ill and dying from tobacco-related disease, combat poverty, and reduce large-scale environmental degradation, the WHO said in a report released on the eve of World No Tobacco Day, marked annually on May 31.
Tobacco-related illness is one of the biggest public health threats the world faces, the report said, noting that tobacco use costs households and governments over 1.4 trillion U.S. dollars in healthcare expenditure and lost productivity.
This year, the WHO is presenting a first-ever report on the large-scale environmental degradation caused by tobacco.
Entitled "Tobacco and its environmental impact," the report revealed that tobacco waste contains over 7,000 toxic chemicals that poison the environment, including human carcinogens, and that up to 10 billion of the 15 billion cigarettes sold daily are disposed of in the environment.
Cigarette butts account for 30-40 percent of all items collected in coastal and urban clean-ups, showed the report.