Tobacco addiction is a global epidemic that ravages entire countries and regions, wreaking the most havoc in the most vulnerable countries and creating an enormous toll of disability, disease, lost productivity and death. Tobacco use continues to be the leading global cause of preventable death. It kills nearly 6 million people every year through cancer, heart disease, respiratory diseases, childhood diseases and others. It also causes hundreds of billions of dollars of economic losses worldwide every year. If current trends continue, by 2030 tobacco will kill more than 8 million people worldwide every year, with 80% of these premature deaths occurring among people in low- and middle-income countries. Over the course of the 21st century, tobacco use could kill up to a billion people unless urgent action is taken.
We know what works to curb the tobacco epidemic. The action we need to take is laid out in the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC). So far, 173 nations (plus the European Union) have pledged to work together to implement the Convention in order to protect present and future generations from the devastating health, social, environmental and economic consequences of tobacco consumption and exposure to tobacco smoke. However, these tobacco control efforts are systematically opposed by the tobacco industry. Who or what is the tobacco industry and what forms do its interference with public health efforts take?