If present trends continue, experts predict, the tobacco toll in the 21st century will reach one billion premature deaths, ten times the 100 million people who died from tobacco use in the 20th century, writes Nicholas Freudenberg for Common Dreams. To avert that future will require changing the focus of current tobacco control strategies from a primary focus on changing the behavior of present and future smokers to one that seeks to change the practices of the tobacco industry itself. Without a more direct effort to change the practices of the powerful corporations that drive the world’s leading cause of death, ending the tobacco epidemic will remain a distant goal.
Last week, two events shed light on current strategies the global tobacco industry uses to counter threats to profitability. In London, shareholders of British American Tobacco (BAT) and in Winston-Salem, Reynolds shareholders approved a BAT buyout of Reynolds that will create the world’s largest tobacco company. In Geneva, the World Health Organization (WHO) released its 2017 report on the global tobacco epidemic, calling on member states to counter the rising tide of tobacco corporate lobbying and litigation that undermines public health measures around the world. Read more