Tobacco kills over 1.3m every year in Southeast Asia


ISLAMABAD – Over 1.3 million people die of tobacco consumption in Southeast Asia every year, with the region having 250 million smokers and nearly the same number of smokeless tobacco users, according to a senior official of World Health Organisation.

Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director for South-East Asia, said, “we know that tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable deaths,” Gulf Today reported on Monday. She was speaking at the inauguration of the WHO’s South-East Asia regional committee meeting in Dehli, Timor-Leste. Health ministers and officials of 11 countries are gathered to set health priorities and discuss the health agenda for the region.

“Worldwide, tobacco use kills nearly six million people annually with over 600,000 deaths due to exposure to second hand smoke,” she said. WHO has reiterated several times the number of deaths occurring because of tobacco use in Southeast Asia and other regions. Dr Poonam said that the region was one of the largest producers and users of tobacco products in the world. “Many types of smoking and smokeless tobacco products are used in the region, which poses difficulties to harmonize taxation and regulations for controlling tobacco use,” she said.

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