La muerte y los impuestos al tabaco

Un asesino global está haciendo estragos en los países más pobres del mundo, casi sin obstáculos. En los próximos 25 años, causará 10 millones de muertes al año a nivel mundial –más que la malaria, las muertes maternas, las infecciones infantiles y la diarrea juntas-. Más de la mitad de las víctimas tendrán entre 30 y 69 años, lo que los hará perder 25 años de expectativa de vida. ¿El culpable? El tabaco. La misma adicción que se convirtió en la principal causa de muerte prevenible en los países occidentales ha causado una gran incursión en los países en desarrollo. El cigarrillo mató a 100 millones de personas en el siglo XX, principalmente en los países desarrollados. Con las tendencias actuales, matará aproximadamente 1.000 millones de personas en el siglo XXI, básicamente en los países en desarrollo.

En la India, fumar triplica el riesgo de muerte por tuberculosis en hombres y mujeres y puede incluso contribuir a la transmisión de la tuberculosis a otros. Aproximadamente 1 millón de personas por año morirán pronto como consecuencia del cigarrillo en China y la India. Tal vez 150 millones de adultos jóvenes morirán en manos del tabaco en estos dos países solamente, a menos de que se frene esta tendencia de manera generalizada.

Pero las tasas de mortalidad del pasado no tienen por qué convertirse en el futuro del mundo. Sabemos cómo controlar el consumo de tabaco. Se necesita que 1.100 millones de fumadores actuales dejen de fumar para reducir las muertes por tabaquismo en las próximas décadas. Un menor consumo de cigarrillo por parte de los chicos salvaría vidas principalmente después de 2050. Dejar de fumar funciona: incluso los que dejan de fumar entre los 40 y los 50 años reducen su riesgo de muerte considerablemente, y los que dejan de fumar entre los 30 y los 40 tienen riesgos de muerte cercanos a quienes no fumaron en toda la vida.

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