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Tobacco breaks hearts 

31 May 2018

31st May is World No Tobacco Day. We’re partnering with the World Health Organisation to highlight the health risks associated with tobacco use. This year, the main focus is on the effect of tobacco on cardiovascular health.

The effects of tobacco

Tobacco use remains one of the biggest public health threats the world has ever faced. Tobacco kills approximately seven million people a year. Six million of those deaths are the result of direct tobacco use, while nearly 900,000 are the result of second-hand smoke.1

Tobacco is one of the main risk factors for both cardiovascular diseases (CVD), such as coronary heart disease, and stroke. It is the second leading cause of CVD after high blood pressure. CVD are the main cause of death in the world; approximately 12% of such deaths are caused by tobacco use.2

The benefits of tobacco control

Tobacco cessation has immediate and long-term benefits for all smokers, even those who have already developed smoking-related health problems. It also offers benefits for people who are exposed to second-hand smoke, including children.

Benefits include decreased blood pressure, improved circulation, reduced risk of coronary heart disease, and increased life expectancy.4

On both national and global levels, the monitoring and control of tobacco helps improve the general health of the population. Furthermore, increasing the price of tobacco creates financial resources that can be used to provide improved health services, as well as better support to individuals with tobacco dependence through primary care.5

Key facts 1

  • Tobacco kills nearly 50% of its users
  • Around 80% of the world’s smokers live in low or middle-income countries
  • Children accounted for 28% of the deaths caused by second-hand smoke in 2004



1. Tobacco. World Health Organization website.
Updated March 2018. Accessed 04 April 2018.
2. Tobacco breaks hearts. World Health Organization website. Accessed 04 April 2018.
3. Global Health Observatory (GHO) data. World Health Organization website. Accessed 04 April 2018.
4. Fact sheet about health benefits of smoking cessation. World Health Organization website. Accessed 04 April 2018.
5. Tobacco control economics. World Health Organization website.
Accessed 04 April 2018.