Physicians are key to addressing the risks of tobacco use

Physicians are key to addressing significant gaps in awareness about risks of tobacco use to heart health

   

Heart disease is the world’s leading cause of death, and tobacco use and secondhand smoke (SHS) exposure are major causes. Yet, understanding the links between tobacco use and heart disease is lacking among smokers in many countries and particularly in low- and middle-income countries, according to a new report released by the World Heart Federation, Cardiovascular harms from tobacco use and secondhand smoke: Global gaps in awareness and implications for action.

Key Findings

·         About half of all smokers in China do not know that smoking causes heart disease and more than two-thirds of smokers do not know smoking causes stroke.

·         More than a third of smokers in India and Vietnam do not know smoking causes heart disease.

·         In India, more than half of smokers do not know that smoking causes stroke.

·         In Vietnam and China, more than half of smokers do not know that SHS causes heart disease.

The report highlights that physicians have unique credibility and capability to increase awareness about tobacco harms and advocate for strong policies to reduce tobacco use and its related harms.  It recommends physicians model tobacco-free living, help patients to quit, and advocate for implementation of comprehensive tobacco control policies as outlined in the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and its Guidelines, including 100% smoke-free policies and pictorial health warning labels.

Full Citation:  World Heart Federation (WHF).  Cardiovascular harms from tobacco use and secondhand smoke: Global gaps in awareness and implications for action.  Geneva: 2012.  Available at: http://www.world-heart-federation.org/fileadmin/user_upload/documents/Tobacco/ITCWHFBroApr18v2web.pdf.

The World Heart Federation is a nongovernmental organization leading the global fight against heart disease and stroke, with a focus on low- and middle-income countries.

If you have questions about this report or how to use it in your advocacy efforts, please email research@global.tobaccofreekids.org.

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