The Third Edition of the The Tobacco Atlas has revealed that by 2015, at least 2.1 million people will die each year because of tobacco-induced cancers.
Published by the American Cancer Society and World Lung Foundation, the Atlas has estimated that tobacco use kills some six million people each year (more than a third of whom will die from cancer), and drains 500 billion dollars annually from global economies.
The Atlas graphically displays how tobacco is devastating both global health and economies, especially in middle- and low-resource countries, and tracks progress and outcomes in tobacco control.
Not only the death toll due to tobacco-induced cancers will go around 2 million by 2015, the Atlas predicted that by 2030, 83 percent of these deaths will occur in low and middle-income countries.
However, unlike other cancer-causing agents, the danger of tobacco is completely preventable through proven public policies.
Major measures include tobacco taxes, advertising bans, smokefree public places, and effective health warnings on packages.
These cost-effective policies are among those included in the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), a global treaty endorsed by more than 160 countries, and recommended by the World Health Organization MPOWER policy package.
The Atlas revealed that the global economy lost a staggering 500 billion dollars due to tobacco use.
These economic costs come as a result of lost productivity, misused resources, missed opportunities for taxation, and premature death.
The Atlas revealed that in 2006, about 600 billion smuggled cigarettes made it to the market, representing an enormous missed tax opportunity for governments, as well as a missed opportunity to prevent many people from starting to smoke and encourage others to quit.
Tobacco replaces potential food production on almost 4 million hectares of the world's agricultural land, equal to all of the world's orange groves or banana plantations.
In developing countries, smokers spend disproportionate sums of money relative to their incomes that could otherwise be spent on food, healthcare, and other necessities.
The Tobacco Atlas established an undeniable trend-the tobacco industry has shifted its marketing and sales efforts to countries that have less effective public health policies and fewer tobacco control resources in place:
It predicted that in 2010, 72 percent of those who die from tobacco related illnesses would be in low- and middle-income countries.
It revealed that since 1960 global tobacco production has increased three-fold in low- and middle-resource countries while halving in high-resource countries.
"The Tobacco Atlas is crucial to helping advocates in every nation get the knowledge they need to combat the most preventable global health epidemic," said Dr. John R. Seffrin, chief executive officer, American Cancer Society.
The Tobacco Atlas was unveiled at the LIVESTRONG Global Cancer Summit.