At least 1.9 million people die from tobacco-induced heart disease yearly, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Tuesday.
The international agency made this known in a joint statement with the World Heart Federation and the University of Newcastle, Australia ahead of the World Heart Day, marked on September 29.
The statement indicates that smokeless tobacco is responsible for around 200,000 deaths from coronary heart disease per year.
“Smokers are more likely to experience an acute cardiovascular event at a younger age than non-smokers.
“Just a few cigarettes a day, occasional smoking, or exposure to second-hand smoke increase the risk of heart disease,” it said.
Evidence have also shown that many lung diseases such as cancer of the lungs, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and pulmonary tuberculosis are caused by direct tobacco use and exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke.
Although tobacco is a legitimate product, its use in any form, including exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke is very dangerous and has no permissible safe limit.
Laboratory analysis shows that tobacco smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals, of which at least 250 are proven to be harmful with 69 known to cause cancer.
A recent survey by WHO also shows that 67 percent of people dying of COVID-19 in Italy had high blood pressure, and in Spain, 43 per cent of people who developed COVID-19 were living with heart disease.
“Making our communities smoke-free reduces the number of tobacco-related hospital admissions, which is more important than ever in the context of the current pandemic,” said Vinayak Prasad, unit lead of the WHO No Tobacco unit.
The international agency noted that the risk of heart disease reduces by 50 percent if a tobacco user takes immediate action.
“If tobacco users take immediate action and quit, then their risk of heart disease will decrease by 50% after one year of not smoking.”
It said global leaders have a responsibility to protect the health of their people and help reverse the tobacco epidemic.
It calls on government to help tobacco users quit by increasing tax on tobacco products, enforcing bans on tobacco advertising, and offering services to help people give up tobacco.
Eduardo Bianco, chair of the World Heart Federation Tobacco Expert Group, urged cardiology societies to train their members in smoking cessation, as well as to promote and even drive tobacco control advocacy efforts
“Given the current level of evidence on tobacco and cardiovascular health and the health benefits of quitting smoking, failing to offer cessation services to patients with heart disease could be considered clinical malpractice or negligence,” he said.