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 June 03, 2013
Tobacco use kills 6m annually: WHO

 Tobacco kills nearly 6 million people worldwide a year, almost one half of its users, an official with the World Health Organization (WHO) said Friday on the occasion of the World No Tobacco Day.

Dr Thomas Sukwue, a WHO representative in Gambia, also said 600,000 people killed by tobacco are non-smokers exposed to second-hand smoke.

In the African region, about 11.5 percent of people use tobacco, and about half of them are also exposed to second-hand smoking in public places, Sukwue added

Sukwue said every year on May 31, people mark the World No Tobacco Day to highlight the risk associated with tobacco use and to champion effective policies to reduce tobacco use.

Created in 1987 by the member states of the WHO, the day comes to its 26th commemoration Friday with the theme "ban tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship".

According to Sukwue, many forms of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship distract people from noticing the harm of smoking by delivering wrong messages that tobacco is fashionable and desirable

Samboujang Conteh, director of the Anti-Tobacco Campaign in Gambia, said they have come up with some recommendations against tobacco use, including increasing taxation on all imported tobacco products, enforcing the Public Smoking Act, banning sales of tobacco to children or minors, among others.

Gambia has banned public smoking. The Anti-Tobacco Campaign law was ratified on July 25,1998 and the Public Smoking Act was approved by the president in 2012.