Nearly 40 million tobacco deaths since October 25, 1999..

October 22, 2008 - The Framework Convention Alliance an organization of groups advocating for tighter tobacco controls, started the death clock when negotiations on the global tobacco treaty began on Oct. 25, 1999. As of 9 a.m. on Oct. 20, 2008, the number had reached 39,776,437 lives lost. One person dies every 5.8 seconds from causes linked to tobacco use, researchers estimate. "Every number was a family member and a loved one," said Mary Assunta, head of the alliance.

Lower-income countries are experiencing the steepest rise in smoking, with China and Indonesia among 10 nations where almost two-thirds of the world's smokers live, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The clock serves as a "reminder of the sheer needlessness of this epidemic," said Douglas Bettcher, director of the WHO's Tobacco Free Initiative. "This is an epidemic that is affecting the poorest of the poor."

Reference: Tobacco `Death Clock' Shows Almost 40 Million Dead (Update1) by Thomas Mulier,, 10/20/2008.