Concerned over the rapid spread and growing variety of unregulated tobacco products, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has called for urgent and broader regulation to prevent more than five million deaths each year attributed to nicotine use.
The agency also called for anti-tobacco programmes, especially aimed at adolescent girls, among whom the rate of smoking was apparently increasing.
Tobacco use, it finds, also continued to expand most rapidly in the developing world, where half of tobacco-related deaths occur. By 2020, if current trends continue, seven out of every 10 tobacco-related deaths will be in the developing world, it said.
'Tobacco can kill in any guise, regardless of whether you smoke it, chew it or inhale it through a water pipe, and that is why all products containing tobacco needs to be regulated immediately, in all forms, worldwide,' Yumiko Mochizuki-Kobayashi, Director of the UN World Health Organisation (WHO) Tobacco Free Initiative, said.
'We are faced with a unique public health challenge, as many tobacco products remain unregulated,' she added in a statement on the occasion of World No Tobacco Day.
The variety of tobacco products manufactured and marketed worldwide continues to expand, and these include flavoured, natural or organic. Besides, roll-your-own cigarettes are often advertised and marketed with names and packaging that might mislead consumers into believing that they are less dangerous than conventional cigarettes, WHO said.
Smokeless tobacco products, such as snus and snuff, previously popular in a limited number of countries, were being marketed heavily elsewhere to specific target groups, the agency stressed.