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WHO Atlas maps Global Tobacco epidemic

Tobacco kills 560 people every hour or 13,400 people per day or 4.9 million people per annum. This death and disease toll spares no nations and no people. WHO's new Tobacco Atlas presents a visual view of this galloping worldwide epidemic. The Atlas provides detailed data from countries on the differences and similarities of the global tobacco control struggle. The comparative data shows that action - or inaction - of one country can affect the work of another.

"The Tobacco Atlas highlights, in an educational and creative fashion, diverse features of this important global epidemic," said Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland, Director-General, World Health Organization “ Its simple presentation of complex epidemiological and statistical information allows everybody to understand the facts and use them effectively.”

The Atlas is being promoted as a tool for policy makers as they seek to formulate national and international regulations on tobacco control. Tobacco consumption is increasing all over the world and will kill 8.4 million people a year by year 2020 if drastic control measures are not put into effect. One in two of today's young smokers will die from tobacco-related causes. The developing countries will bear the brunt of the death toll, accounting for over 70 percent of the projected deaths.

The Tobacco Atlas, produced in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, USA, provides a unique statistical profile of the epidemic. Visual presentations, such as colour maps and graphics, make thousands of statistics spring to life on a variety of tobacco issues. Among the presentations are similarities and differences between countries, the conduct of the tobacco companies, gender differences in tobacco consumption, investments by tobacco industry, the costs of tobacco use and illicit trade and litigation.

“Action taken today will determine the reality of tomorrow. The Atlas is a valuable resource in fighting the tobacco epidemic," said Dr Judith Mackay, author of the Atlas and Senior Policy Advisor to the Tobacco Free Initiative of the World Health Organization. The co author of the Atlas is Dr Michael Eriksen, former Director of the US Office on Smoking and Health and current consultant at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Tobacco Atlas comes at a time when WHO's Member States meet in Geneva for the fifth round of negotiations on the proposed Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). The Convention is scheduled to be ready by May 2003.

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For more information contact:

Ms Helen Green
Telephone: +41 (22) 791 3432
Mobile phone: +41 (79) 475 5572
Fax: +41 (22) 791 4832
E-mail: greenh@who.int