BEIJING, May 30 (Xinhua) -- The World Health Organization (WHO) called for "tougher laws and enforcement" that will prevent premature deaths from tobacco-related diseases, according to a statement released on Monday.
The WHO statement says the tobacco epidemic kills nearly 6 million people worldwide each year, mostly from heart disease, stroke, cancer and emphysema.
"Tobacco-related deaths account for 63 percent of deaths from noncommunicable diseases in the world today," it says, adding that "passive or second-hand exposure to tobacco causes an estimated 600,000 deaths a year globally."
Dr. Michael O'Leary, WHO China Representative, said, "Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death, in the world and in China. Every year in China, about 1 million people die from a tobacco-related heart attack, stroke, cancer, lung ailment or other disease. That does not include the people -- more than a quarter of them children -- who die from exposure to second-hand smoke."
The statement says the socio-economic cost of tobacco use is a reason for alarm, and that the annual death toll from the global epidemic of tobacco use could rise to 8 million by 2030.
It says having killed 100 million people during the 20th century, tobacco use could kill 1 billion during the 21st century.
In observance of World No Tobacco Day on Tuesday, WHO calls on governments and stakeholders worldwide to use the provisions of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) as the basis for laws for "a 100 percent ban on indoor smoking, comprehensive bans on advertising, promotion and sponsorship, bans on sale to minors, graphic health warnings and higher prices and taxes for tobacco products," it says.
"These are policy measures that will save lives and will also result in billions of dollars saved by preventing diseases, productivity losses and deaths from tobacco use," the statement says.
It quotes Dr O'Leary as saying, "Today we wish to highlight the treaty's overall importance, to stress China's obligations as a Party to the treaty and to promote the essential role of the Conference of the Parties and WHO in supporting China's efforts to meet those obligations."