BETHESDA, Md--Although there is some "good news" on the tobacco front--lung cancer deaths have declined in one US demographic group--the bad news continues to pour in from all over the globe, an NCI official told a symposium sponsored by NCI and the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).
"One of every 10 people now alive today will die of tobacco-related disease unless serious action is taken on a worldwide scale," said Thomas J. Glynn, PhD, chief of the Prevention and Control Extramural Research Branch in the Division of Cancer Prevention and Control.
Worldwide, he said, two tobacco companies--R.J. Reynolds and Philip Morris--have increased sales by almost 200 billion cigarettes per year, primarily because of sales in Eastern Europe and developing countries. China, with 23% of the world's population, has about 29% of the world's smokers.
Dr. Glynn cited WHO estimates that about 3 million people per year are dying from tobacco-related disease throughout the world. "Without a concerted worldwide effort, this will rise to about 10 million per year by the year 2020," he said.
For 1995, he said, this works out roughly to six deaths every minute from tobacco use--one person in the European Union, one in the United States, one in the former USSR, one in the other developed nations, one in China, and one in the developing nations.
Wasn't There Some Good News?
Even though lung cancer rates continue to rise in the United States, "we're starting to see the first decline over the past 5 years or so" in at least one major demographic group--45- to-54-year-old white males," Dr. Glynn said. "This is among the group that has stopped smoking in the past 2 decades."