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Tobacco Atlas Finds Industry Tactics Creating a Future of Missed Opportunity to Improve Global Health, Wealth, and Equality

*Tobacco use in all forms is even more harmful than previously thought, driving increased health problems, premature death, poverty, social injustice, and environmental degradation*

*Governments must be bolder and more innovative to counter the rising burden of tobacco and the industry’s aggressive broadening of its tactics to subvert regulation and prevent progress*

*In 2013, tobacco industry profits reached more than US$44.1 billion at the cost of 6.3 million deaths; equivalent to around US$7,000 for each death caused by tobacco*

(Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirate) – The Tobacco Atlas, Fifth Edition (“The Atlas”), and its companion website, were unveiled today by the American Cancer Society and World Lung Foundation at the 16th World Conference on Tobacco or Health. The Atlas graphically details the scale of the tobacco epidemic; the harmful influence of tobacco on health, poverty, social justice, and the environment; the progress that has been made in tobacco control; and the latest products and tactics being deployed by the industry to protect its profits and delay and derail tobacco control.


The Fight Against The Tobacco Epidemic Is At A Critical Stage

Strong tobacco control laws have led to reductions in smoking prevalence but much remains to be done. The Atlas’ authors conclude that the battle against tobacco has reached a critical stage:

Unprecedented Activity By The Tobacco Industry Is Preventing Progress

The Atlas reveals the extent of the tobacco industry’s expanding and well-resourced array of tactics to preserve its profits, to hide the truth from the public and to influence or derail regulation. Among the top six transnational tobacco companies – accounting for 85% of all cigarettes smoked globally – profits have reached US$44.1 billion or around US$7,000 for every tobacco-related death, up from US$6,000 per death when the last edition of The Atlas was published in 2012. These industry tactics include:

Tobacco Industry Tactics Are Causing Economic, Social and Environmental Harm

Tobacco use costs the global economy over US$1 trillion according to The Atlas and may have an economic impact of as much as US$2.1 trillion according to other sources. Low• and middle-income countries (LMICs) represent over 80% of tobacco users and tobacco-related deaths, so an increasing proportion of this cost is born by people who can least afford it. Negative economic, social, and environmental consequences of tobacco include:

Creating A Future Of Missed Opportunities

Without change, governments around the world will miss targets to improve health and opportunities to reduce the harm of tobacco:

Bolder, Faster Action Is Needed

The Atlas authors conclude that bolder, faster action is needed to reduce tobacco use:

Quotes From Leadership

“Whether it’s the link between tobacco and increasing rates of lung cancer among women or the ever-increasing number of health conditions and deaths related to tobacco use, the health and economic case for reducing tobacco use has never been clearer,” said John R. Seffrin, PhD, chief executive officer, American Cancer Society. “We encourage public health advocates; colleagues across legal, environmental, and developmental specialisms; governments; economists; educators; and the media to use this vital tool to tell people the truth about how a cohesive, well-funded tobacco industry is systematically causing preventable deaths, destroying the environment, and crippling economies – all for its own profit. These truths will help us create support for the change so bitterly opposed by the tobacco industry.”

“There is a perception that we know everything about tobacco and the harm it causes, but the truth is that every edition of The Tobacco Atlas reveals something new about the industry, its tactics and the real harm it causes,” said Peter Baldini, Chief Executive Officer, World Lung Foundation. “Our challenge, as a global community interested in health and development, is to raise awareness, to bring new voices to the table, to encourage governments to implement comprehensive tobacco control measures as quickly as possible, and to help them stand firm against industry threats and interference. Our fervent hope is that the next Atlas will report the fruits of such a strategy.”

About the Authors

The authors of The Tobacco Atlas bring a deep knowledge of the tobacco epidemic and its solutions. Michael Eriksen, ScD, is a professor and founding director of the School of Public Health at Georgia State University. He has been a senior advisor to the World Health Organization (WHO), and was director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Office on Smoking and Health. Judith Mackay, MBChB, is a Fellow of the Royal Colleges of Physicians of Edinburgh and London, and a special advisor at World Lung Foundation. She is also a senior policy advisor to the WHO and a director of the Asian Consultancy on Tobacco Control. Neil Schluger, MD, is Chief Scientific Officer of World Lung Foundation as well as Chief of the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine at the Columbia University Medical Center, and Professor of Medicine, Epidemiology and Environmental Health Science at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health. Farhad Islami Gomeshtapeh, MD, PhD, is the director of interventions in the Surveillance and Health Services Research group at the American Cancer Society. His work focuses on investigating the associations between tobacco or other modifiable risk factors and cancer and evaluating the effects of interventions for cancer prevention, including tobacco control, in reducing cancer morbidity and mortality. Jeffrey Drope, PhD, is the managing director of the Economic and Health Policy Research program at the American Cancer Society. His research focuses on the nexus of public health (including tobacco control, harmful alcohol use, nutrition, and access to care) and economic policy making, especially trade, investment and taxation.

About the Fifth Edition

The Tobacco Atlas, Fifth Edition is being launched on March 19, 2015, at the World Conference on Tobacco or Health in Abu Dhabi. The Atlas presents the most up-to-date information on tobacco and tobacco control available in a highly graphic, easily understandable format. Data contained within The Atlas is gathered from multiple sources and validated to ensure it presents a holistic and accurate picture of tobacco and tobacco control across the globe. The updated version will be available on mobile devices and is also being released online at, where policymakers, public health practitioners, advocates, and journalists may interact with the data and create customizable charts, graphs, and maps. For more information, please visit

About the American Cancer Society

The American Cancer Society is a global grassroots force of 2.5 million volunteers saving lives and fighting for every birthday threatened by every cancer in every community. As the largest voluntary health organization, the Society’s efforts have contributed to a 22 percent decline in cancer death rates in the US during the past two decades, and a 50 percent drop in smoking rates. Thanks in part to our progress nearly 14.5 million Americans who have had cancer and countless more who have avoided it will celebrate more birthdays this year. We’re determined to finish the fight against cancer. As the nation’s largest private, not-for-profit investor in cancer research, we’re finding cures and ensuring people facing cancer have the help they need and continuing the fight for access to quality health care, lifesaving screenings, clean air, and more. For more information, to get help, or to join the fight, visit or call us anytime, day or night, at 1-800-227-2345.

About World Lung Foundation

World Lung Foundation was established in response to the global epidemic of lung disease, which kills 10
million people each year. The organization also works on maternal and infant mortality reduction
initiatives. WLF improves global health by improving local health capacity, by supporting operational
research, by developing public policy and by delivering public education. The organization’s areas of
emphasis are tobacco control, maternal and infant mortality prevention, tuberculosis, asthma, and child
lung health. For more information, please visit or twitter @worldlungfdn

For more information, please contact:
Tracey Johnston, World Lung Foundation at

WLF staff