October 4, 2011

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

New paper demonstrates that tobacco control is necessary to control tuberculosis around the world

The tobacco industry has spent decades working to convince developing countries as well as funding agencies that they should not "waste" their time on tobacco control, but rather focus on infectious diseases like tuberculosis at the same time that the multinational tobacco companies were expanding aggressively in those very countries.

We just published a paper that modernizes mathematical models of the global TB epidemic to include the effects of smoking and passive smoking. This paper shows that, because smoking and passive smoking facilitate the spread of TB and the transition from infection to active TB, continued increases in smoking in much of the world will dramatically delay achieving the Millennium Development Goals for controlling TB. Indeed, in some parts of the world they will never be met.

This fact further bolsters the case that implementing global tobacco control, as described in the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, is a key element of the development agenda because of the impact on infectious disease, as well as the connections for noncommunicable diseases identified in the UN High Level Summit a couple weeks ago. Reducing tobacco use is crucial for achieving the Millennium Development Goals for TB. Tobacco control is tuberculosis control.

As the paper concludes: "Tobacco smoking could substantially increase tuberculosis cases and deaths worldwide in coming years, undermining progress towards tuberculosis mortality targets. Aggressive tobacco control could avert millions of deaths from tuberculosis."

The Voice of America featured this work and is implications in a global television broadcast on November 9, 2011; watch it by clicking here.

The full paper is available for free by clicking here.

A video providing a summary of the paper is available by clicking here .  

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