Chris Hansen, ACS CAN President

ACS CAN President Lisa Lacasse shares her views on the impact of advocacy on the cancer fight.


The Devastating Impact of Tobacco on the Economy and Trade

October 17, 2012

Most of us know how detrimental tobacco is to our health. The more than 7,000 deadly chemicals in tobacco cause diabetes, cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory problems and cancer, just to name a few potentially fatal health conditions. But what many people often donŠ—'t recognize is the devastating impact of tobacco use and production on global trade and economies. To shed light on the economic devastation caused by tobacco around the world, the American Cancer Society and the World Lung Foundation Monday held a unique event in Washington, DC to unveil the fourth edition of the Tobacco Atlas

The Tobacco Atlas provides a comprehensive look at the global impact of tobacco on the health and economies around the world. First unveiled at the World Conference on Tobacco or Health in Singapore in March, the Atlas is an invaluable resource for tobacco advocates across the globe. Watch this powerful video that gives an overview of the report. MondayŠ—'s event held at the National Press Club in downtown Washington featured all three authors of the Tobacco Atlas: Michael Eriksen, Sc.D, Judith Mackay, PhD and Hana Ross, PhD. The authors gave an overview of their findings, which included the following startling statistics:

  • During the year 2010, the tobacco industry made an estimated $6,000 in profit for every person killed by tobacco use around the world.
  • Globally, 6 million people die annually from smoking-related diseases.
  • In 2010, the six leading tobacco companies in the world made a collective profit of $35.1 billion, the equivalent of the profits of Coca Cola, McDonalds and Microsoft combined.

We were also joined by Keith Hansen, director for human development at The World Bank. He offered a fascinating perspective on how the development community is trying to tackle tobacco use Š—– and how the tobacco industry is fighting back at every turn. He discussed how frightening the tobacco endemic is in developing countries, particularly in Africa. But, he also said that there is tremendous opportunity to help the global economy if we are able to maintain a healthy workforce. Keith explained that economists and ministers of finance must work together for effective tobacco control. 

The event launched an important conversation that needs to take place in communities across the world. If we donŠ—'t work together to combat tobacco use through such measures as implementing strong smoke-free laws, significant and consistent tobacco taxes and effective cessation programs weŠ—'re not only looking at a health catastrophe on our hands, but a global economic crisis. The Tobacco Atlas provides a variety of solutions for how we can curb the disturbing trends weŠ—'re seeing across the world. I invite you to take a look at the interactive Tobacco Atlas website and learn for yourself about what we can all do to make sure the future holds promise for the fight against tobacco.