Each year, cigarette smoking kills five million people worldwide, one-half of them still of working age (35–69 years). While lung cancer is the most well-known consequence of smoking, an almost equal number of lives are lost as a result of cardiovascular disease. It is also the leading cause of death attributable to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
The World Health Organization projects that the number of smokers worldwide will increase from 1.3 billion today to about 1.7 billion in 2025. As a consequence of the projected increases in global smoking, smoking-related deaths are predicted to increase to about 10 million per year by 2030, with even greater increases in the longer term.
While climate change, poverty, bitter regional conflicts, fears about terrorism and worldwide economic recession compete for the attention of world leaders, tobacco use is a threat to our health and economic prosperity that we do have the knowledge and tools to effectively tackle.
The World Health Organization's international Framework Convention on Tobacco Control provides a roadmap for coordinated global action. But attaining the vision of this global treaty requires action nation by nation. And national action requires national capacity including political commitment, a skilled workforce, good systems for collecting and analysing data and, perhaps most crucially of all, knowledge.
Australia was an earlier adopter of tobacco control, one of the first nations to attain many of the first-generation goals articulated for tobacco control in the 1970s and early 1980s by international authorities such as the Royal College of Physicians, the International Union Against Cancer and the World Health Organization. Renewed political interest in prevention and a commitment to realistic investment to tackle chronic diseases in Australia augers well for tobacco control over the coming years.
Tobacco in Australia: Facts and Issues synthesises data, information and knowledge concerning every major component of a comprehensive tobacco control program. This greatly expanded edition summarises international evidence and current and historical trends and provides a richly detailed, real-world account of the depth, breadth and complexity of a successful national tobacco control program. It describes a long-term endeavour that is based on practical collaboration involving many different professional groups, across jurisdictions and between government and non-government agencies. It will be an essential resource for anyone working in the field in Australia and will also be enormously helpful for many working to reduce the burden of disease from tobacco use in other countries, many of whom look to Australia for guidance on effective models.
We commend this important tobacco control resource to all those working in tobacco control and to those involved in public health endeavours across the world.
David Hill AM, PhD
Dr Lyn Roberts AM
National Heart Foundation of Australia