Tobacco use kills 7 million a year, poisons environment, WHO says

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Tobacco use kills 7 million a year, poisons environment, WHO says

The World Health Organization is highlighting the dangers of tobacco use as one of the biggest public health threats in the world.

More than 7 million people die every year due to tobacco use, costing households and governments more than $1.4 trillion in health care costs and productivity loss, experts wrote in a news release Tuesday, the day before World No Tobacco Day.

In addition, tobacco waste contains more than 7,000 toxic chemicals that poison the environment and contributes to 16 percent of all noncommunicable disease deaths, the WHO said.

The drug is a threat to livelihoods, too, according to the WHO. Around 860 million adult smokers live in either low- or middle-income countries, often spending more than 10 percent of their income on tobacco products and leaving less for things such as food, health care and education.

According to the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S. with more than 480,000 reported deaths (nearly one in five deaths) each year and 16 million Americans suffering with at least one disease caused by smoking.

This costs the country nearly $170 billion in direct medical costs.

Nationwide, according to 2015 data, 31.4 percent of U.S. high school youth reported using a tobacco product, and 10.8 percent reported smoking cigarettes.

The CDC offers tips for smokers who want to quit, including a hotline for referrals to local resources (1-800-784-8669), best practices guidelines and more at CDC.gov.

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