Exposing the global harm caused by the tobacco industry

Today sees the start of a co-ordinated week of action by ASH and our partners to highlight the global harm caused by the tobacco industry.

This action is timed to coincide with annual general meetings of two of the largest transnational tobacco companies — British American Tobacco (BAT) and Philip Morris International (PMI).

Tobacco kills around 6 million people every year [1] — a figure greater than the number of people living in Denmark [2].

Smoking is the largest preventable cause of death and disease across the world.

Despite the widespread harm caused by the tobacco industry, the businesses involved continue to harvest enormous profits. BAT alone made a profit of £5.2 billion in 2016 [3] from their global market share of about 11%. [4]

The harm from the tobacco industry extends beyond that caused to individuals who smoke or are exposed to second-hand smoke. Tobacco farming takes valuable land that could be used to produce food and other more useful resources, and increases poverty in low income countries.

Child labour is used extensively in tobacco farming and production, harming efforts to improve educational outcomes [1], while the adult labour involved could be put to more productive and beneficial work. Many workers involved in harvesting tobacco, especially children, fall ill with a condition called green tobacco sickness. [1]

Hundreds of millions of trees are felled every year to make way for tobacco crops [5], accelerating deforestation and contributing negatively to climate change.

Throughout the next eight days we will be exposing the global harm caused by the tobacco industries — to individuals, families, societies, the global economy and our environment. Please join us in sharing these messages and encourage governments to #ActOnTobacco.

Here are some ways in which you can get involved in the campaign.

All hyperlinks accessed on 20 April 2017
[1] http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs339/en/ 
[2] http://denmark.dk/en/quick-facts/facts/ 
 [3]http://www.bat.com/group/sites/uk__9d9kcy.nsf/vwPagesWebLive/DO9DCL3B/$FILE/medMDAKPK62.pdf?openelement page 2
[4] https://www.statista.com/statistics/279873/global-cigarette-market-share-by-group/ 
[5] Leppan W, Lecours N, Buckles D. (Editors). Tobacco control and tobacco farming: Separating myth from reality. International Development Research Center. New York: Anthem Press; 2014