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Dr Douglas Bettcher, Director, Department for the Prevention of Noncommunicable Diseases at World Health Organization, told journalists in Geneva that tobacco use is falling globally but it still kills more than seven million people a year.

Arsen Torosyan noted the cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death worldwide, adding some 12% of heart diseases develop due to smoking or exposure to the second-hand smoke.

When tobacco users die prematurely in their productive years, families lose loved ones and income with economic development also affected negatively.

Dr Kyaw Kan Kaung, director of the Department of Public Health for Non-Communicable Diseases, told The Myanmar Times that the government will further intensify measures to control tobacco use and sale. In many countries, this low awareness is substantial; for example in China, over 60% of the population is unaware smoking can cause heart attacks, according to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey.

The focus this year is "Tobacco and Heart Disease" to emphasize impact tobacco has on the cardiovascular health of people across the globe. The other area of awareness is the feasible actions that governments and the public can take to reduce the risks to heart health posed by tobacco. Significant progress in controlling tobacco use by both men and women was reported in the Americas, led by countries like Uruguay, Brazil, Paraguay and Colombia, but to a lesser extent in the United States, WHO said.

"Tobacco is the leading preventable cause of death", he said.

The study did not directly compare the risk of e-cigarettes to tobacco cigarettes, but the researchers said the results suggest that those who use e-cigs may be at higher risk of lung infection than people who do not use the devices. More importantly, long-term smokers can use them as a substitute for traditional cigarettes to help in quitting the habit or, at least, switch to a less risky alternative.

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"On the African Region, about 146 000 adults aged 30 years and above die every year from tobacco-related diseases".

Worldwide, about 7%, or just over 24 million children aged 13-15, smoke cigarettes, (17 million boys and 7 million girls).

Meanwhile, the draft law on Special Consumption Tax, which will come into effect in 2020, plans to put a tax of 1,000 VND (0.044 USD) on a pack of 20 cigarettes or increase the tax from 75 to 80 percent of the tobacco's price from 2020 onwards and from 80 to 85 percent from 2021 onwards.

Tobacco smoking appears to be decreasing in nearly all parts of the world except Africa and the eastern Mediterranean region.

A set of anti-smoking postal stamps was jointly issued by the Ministry of Information and Communications and the Ministry of Health at a ceremony in Hanoi on May 31.

"In this regard and in conjunction with World No Tobacco Day, let us try to make Brunei Darussalam free of cigarette smoke. Let us choose health, not tobacco", Moeti stressed.


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