Can the world go tobacco-free by 2040?

London: Public health researchers have called for the sale of tobacco to be phased out by 2040, showing that with sufficient political support, a tobacco-free world could be possible in less than three decades.

Health and policy experts have called on the United Nations to lead a "turbo-charged" effort against the sale and consumption of tobacco.

Can the world go tobacco-free by 2040?
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One billion deaths from smoking and other forms of tobacco use are expected by the end of this century if efforts to tackle tobacco use are not accelerated.

"A world where tobacco is out of sight, out of mind, and out of fashion - yet not prohibited - is achievable in less than three decades from now, but only with full commitment from governments, international agencies, such as UN and WHO, and civil society," said professor Robert Beaglehole from the University of Auckland, New Zealand.

A decade on from WHO's landmark introduction of Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), only 15 percent of the world's population have adequate access to smoking cessation programmes.

Although overall rates of smoking are slowly declining, prevalence of tobacco usage is actually expected to increase in some countries over the next decade, notably in Africa and the Middle East.

"Contrary to industry claims, tobacco marketing deliberately targets women and young people," said professor Anna Gilmore from the University of Bath in Britain.

"The prevalence of tobacco use among adult men in China is one of the highest in the world and is increasing; 14 million deaths in China were attributed to tobacco use in 2010," said professor Gonghuan Yang from Peking Union Medical College in Beijing.

The research was published in The Lancet Global Health.

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