Passive smoking kills over 600,000 a year worldwide—WHO report..

November 26, 2010 - In what can be termed as a rude wake-up call to all those who consider secondhand smoke (passive smoking, shs, environmental tobacco smoke, ets, involuntary smoking. sidestream smoke) merely an annoyance, a new study claims that it is a serious health threat that claims thousands of lives every year worldwide.

An international study by the World Health Organization (WHO), which analyzed data from 192 countries, estimates that in 2004 passive smoking was responsible for the demise of over 600,000 people, including 165,000 children.

PAPER: Worldwide burden of disease from exposure to second-hand smoke: a retrospective analysis of data from 192 countries, Mattias Öberg PhD, Prof Maritta S Jaakkola PhD , Prof Alistair Woodward PhD , Armando Peruga DrPH , Dr Annette Prüss-Ustün PhD, The Lancet, Early Online Publication, 11/26/2010, Summary..

Co-author of the study, Professor Alistair Woodward from the University of Auckland stated, "The 1.2 billion smokers around the world are not only putting themselves at risk; they are harming the health of billions of non-smokers, and it is children who suffer most.”

The report found that exposure to secondhand smoke led to nearly 379,000 deaths from ischaemic heart disease, 165,000 from lower respiratory infections, 36,900 from asthma, and 21,400 from lung cancer.

The kids are hit the hardest because they are more exposed to passive smoking than any other age group. Nearly 43,375 child deaths were attributed to passive smoking across African countries, as opposed to 9,514 deaths in adults. Children & second–hand smoke..

June 24, 2010 - Woman exposed to secondhand smoke as a child dying of COPD..

However, in developed countries such as Europe, only 71 children died because of secondhand smoke, while 35,388 deaths occurred in adults.

Lead author of the study, Dr Annette Pruss-Ustun from the WHO in Geneva, Switzerland stated, "Exposure to second-hand smoke is still one of the most common indoor pollutants worldwide. "On the basis of the proportions of second-hand smoke exposure, as many as 40% of children, 35% of women and 33% of men are regularly exposed to second-hand smoke indoors. "We have estimated that second-hand smoke caused 603,000 deaths worldwide in 2004, corresponding to 1% of all deaths. "These deaths should be added to the estimated 5.1 million deaths attributable to active smoking to obtain the full effect of both passive and active smoking. "Smoking, therefore, was responsible for more than 5.7 million deaths every year in 2004."

Experts theorize that prohibition of smoking in public places could dramatically reduce health care costs and cut passive smoking mortality. However, presently only 7.4 percent of the world's population lives in countries where lighting up is banned in public spaces. Even in such countries, where measures to convey the harmful impact of smoking are adopted, the laws are not always rigid. Research has indicated that enforcement of anti-smoking laws reduces the exposure to secondhand smoke in places such as bars and restaurants by 90 percent. In addition, such regulations can lower tobacco consumption and also help people quit smoking.

Pruss-Ustun stated, "Policy-makers should bear in mind that enforcing complete smoke-free laws will probably substantially reduce the number of deaths attributable to exposure to second-hand smoke within the first year of its implementation, with accompanying reduction in costs of illness in social and health systems.”

The study was sponsored by the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare and Bloomberg Philanthropies.

December 10, 2009 - WHO - 600,000 non-smokers die each year as a result of secondhand smoke..

Reference: Passive smoking kills over 600,000 a year worldwide—WHO report by Neka Sehgal, 11/26/2010.