Tobacco use kills 2 each minute in Western Pacific Region: WHO

MANILA, Oct. 10 (Xinhua) -- The World Health Organization's ( WHO) Regional Office for the Western Pacific said on Friday that two people die each minute from tobacco-related disease in the region.

Tobacco use has become the second biggest contributor to the epidemic of non-communicable disease in the region, following high blood pressure, according to a fact sheet released by the office.

"Of the World Health Organization's six regions, the Western Pacific Region has the greatest number of smokers, the highest rates of male smoking prevalence, and the fastest increase in tobacco uptake by women and young people," the WHO said.

According to the fact sheet, nearly 80 percent of the world's one billion smokers live in low- and middle-income countries. One in three cigarettes consumed globally is smoked in the Western Pacific Region.

The organization warned that the tobacco epidemic could undermine other public health gains, and hamper economic growth and development in the region if countries do not take smoking control measures.

Dr. Shin Young-soo, WHO's regional director for the Western Pacific, said at a press conference that Tobacco would be one of the key issues to be discussed at the 65th session of the WHO Regional Committee for the Western Pacific on Oct. 13-17 in Manila.

The Western Pacific Region, one of the six regions of the WHO, is home to approximately 1.8 billion people, more than one-fourth of the world's population. There are 37 WHO member states and areas in the region.