Heart Disease: WHO Wants Higher Tax on Tobacco
By Dipo Olowookere
**Says Tobacco Kills 1.9 million People Yearly
About 1.9 million people die from tobacco-induced heart disease every year, while smokeless tobacco is responsible for around 200,000 deaths from coronary heart disease per year, with e-cigarettes raising blood pressure and increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, a study has shown.
Ahead of the World Heart Day, marked on September 29, tobacco users have been urged to take immediate action and quit smoking so as to reduce their risk of heart disease by 50 per cent after one year.
Also, governments have been urged to help tobacco users quit by increasing tax on tobacco products, enforcing bans on tobacco advertising and offering services to help people give up tobacco.
According to the report by the World Health Organisation (WHO), World Heart Federation and the University of Newcastle Australia, just a few cigarettes a day, occasional smoking, or exposure to second-hand smoke increase the risk of heart disease.
The report warned tobacco users to quit and avoid a heart attack, stressing that smokers are more likely to experience an acute cardiovascular event at a younger age than non-smokers. It was noted that about 20 per cent or one in five of all deaths from heart disease is linked with smoking.
“Given the current level of evidence on tobacco and cardiovascular health and the health benefits of quitting smoking, failing to offer cessation services to patients with heart disease could be considered clinical malpractice or negligence.
“Cardiology societies should train their members in smoking cessation, as well as to promote and even drive tobacco control advocacy efforts,” said Dr Eduardo Bianco, Chair of the World Heart Federation Tobacco Expert Group.
It was stated that high blood pressure and heart disease increase the risk of severe COVID-19 as a recent WHO survey found that among people dying of COVID-19 in Italy, 67 per cent had high blood pressure and in Spain, 43 per cent of people who developed COVID-19 were living with heart disease.
“Governments have a responsibility to protect the health of their people and help reverse the tobacco epidemic.
“Making our communities smoke-free reduces the number of tobacco-related hospital admissions, which is more important than ever in the context of the current pandemic,” said Dr Vinayak Prasad, Unit Lead of the WHO No Tobacco Unit.