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Smoking could lead to 40 million TB deaths by 2050

Researchers warning about a significant increase in smoking-linked TB deaths worldwide have insisted that “tobacco control is tuberculosis control”.

File photo posed by model
File photo posed by model
Image: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire/Press Association Images

AS MANY AS 40 million smokers could die of tuberculosis by the year 2050, according to a study published in the British Medical Journal.

The study showed that, if smoking trends continued along current trajectories, there would be 18 million more cases of TB worldwide. Researchers used a mathematical model to predict the effect of various worldwide smoking scenarios on the rates of TB and death between 2010 and 2050.

Many of the new TB cases will be in the eastern Mediterranean, Southeast Asia and Africa.

The head researcher involved in the study, Sanjay Basu of the University of California at San Francisco, said that “aggressively lowering the prevalence of tobacco smoking”could reduce smoking-attributable deaths from tuberculosis by 27 million by 2050″.

“In the past, multinational tobacco companies have attempted to persuade health organisations to focus on infectious diseases rather than tobacco control. Our results show that this is a false dichotomy: tobacco control is tuberculosis control,” the study noted.

Almost one-fifth of the world’s population smoke – and most of them live in countries that have a high prevalence of TB.

Smokers are twice as likely to contract and die from TB than non-smokers.

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