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ACS to Fight Tobacco ‘Pandemic’ Worldwide

ACS to Fight Tobacco ‘Pandemic’ Worldwide

NEW YORK—As an explosion of lung cancer deaths is set to overwhelm
developing countries, the American Cancer Society (ACS) plans to work worldwide
to combat the tobacco pandemic.

"Frankly, something needs to be done, and the United States has a
responsibility," said Donald W. Distasio, CEO of the American Cancer
Society, Eastern Division, East Syracuse, NY. "I don’t think any of us
want to be known by the year 2030 as the organization that didn’t do anything
about the country exporting death."

The growing tobacco pandemic overseas is one of several major political
issues on the American Cancer Society’s plate at this time, Mr. Distasio said
at a conference sponsored by Gilda’s Club Worldwide (New York) and Marie
Curie Cancer Care (Edinburgh). "I think we need to be very smart and
courageous about what we want to do," he said.

Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable disease and death.
Tobacco-related deaths currently number about 4.2 million worldwide, according
to the World Health Organization, which projects the number of deaths will more
than double to 10 million by 2030.

However, it is developing countries that will be hit hardest: the number of
tobacco deaths is expected to triple over that time period (see Figure).

"This is just a frightening notion, and something really has to be done
about it," Mr. Distasio said. He noted that many of the deaths will occur
in men between the ages of 35 and 65—many the prime wage earners of families,
suggesting an economically devastating effect.

Very little is currently spent on tobacco control outside of the United
States, Australia, and Canada. Whereas the United States spends approximately
$2 billion a year—the effects of which, proponents say, are increasingly
evident over time—less than $100 million is spent in the rest of the world,
he said.

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