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Tobacco & Public Health

The World Health Organization recognizes tobacco use as a public health priority because research shows that tobacco use kills approximately 5 million people each year. It is also the most preventable cause of death. Tobacco use is also a public health concern because it leads to lower productivity of smokers due to sickness. An increase in tobacco price and tax, in addition to the restrictions of smoking in certain public places, are examples of public health initiatives to limit tobacco consumption.

Some people do not realize that secondhand smoke is extremely harmful. Secondhand smoke is the smoke that has been exhaled or breathed out by the person smoking and contains over 7,000 chemicals. Hundreds of these chemicals are toxic and approximately 70 can cause cancer. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recorded 2.5 million nonsmoker deaths from 1964 to present. The American Cancer Society recognizes secondhand smoke as a human carcinogen, a cancer-causing agent that is a hazard to society.

World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Cancer Society, 2014