- By Deb Balzer
A Billion Tobacco Deaths Unless Substantial Changes
World leaders in tobacco control and treatment, international and national grantees, and health care professionals are gathered at Mayo Clinic for the Global Tobacco Dependence Treatment Summit 2016 to discuss the impact of health care professional advocacy on tobacco control. The conference, hosted by Mayo Clinic’s Nicotine Dependence Center and the Global Bridges Healthcare Alliance, is being held from May 23-24, 2016.
"Right now, tobacco kills approximately 6 million people per year in the world, and unless something substantially changes about the number of smokers and the number of cigarettes that they smoke, estimates are that in this century, we will see a billion deaths from tobacco," says Dr. J. Taylor Hays, director of the Mayo Clinic Nicotine Dependence Center and chair of Global Bridges. "It remains the number one preventable cause of death in the world, far greater than any other preventable causes, far greater than infectious diseases, far greater than cancer, far greater than cardiovascular disease.
Dr. Hays adds, "What has happened in the last 20 to 30 years is, as the prevalence of smoking in Western, developed countries has gone down, the prevalence in low and middle income countries has gone up. The tobacco companies have exported this deadly product to countries that are ill-equipped to deal with the outcomes."
The Mayo Clinic Nicotine Dependence Center has treated more than 50,000 people. Dr. Hays says, "Our mission is to give them hope for a life free of tobacco".