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Publication date: 
May 31, 2021

Emmanuela Gakidou, Professor, Head of the Tobacco Health Metrics Team
Transcript has been lightly edited for clarity

The Tobacco Metrics Team at IHME has produced a large amount of work to commemorate World No Tobacco Day which is on May 31 every year. We want to highlight the significant toll that tobacco takes on populations around the world. What the past 15 months have demonstrated is that we all value our health greatly, and yet about 8 million people die every year from causes related to smoking and use of other tobacco products. All of these deaths are preventable and the results of our studies show how they’re distributed around the world and where the burden is the greatest.

The part that the world has the greatest opportunity to make a change is smoking among young people. Our study has shown that 9 out of 10 smokers began smoking regularly before the age of 25 which provides us with a unique opportunity to intervene. If somebody does not pick up the habit by age 25, chances are they’re not going to smoke for the rest of their lives. Investing in the health of young people by convincing them not to start smoking is going to have huge benefits for the health of populations around the world. If you couple that with benefits that will come from avoiding secondhand smoke – for people that don’t smoke – but also causes a lot of ill effects, that’s a huge amount of savings for health systems and a lot of lives saved around the world for years to come.