ESC emphasizes underestimated effects of tobacco use

05/31/05

Sophia Antipolis, France, 31 May 2005: The European Society of Cardiology (ESC) is calling on health professionals to join efforts toward tobacco control by underscoring the importance of effects of tobacco use which have been underestimated in the past.

According to a study on middle-aged men over a 20-year period with no prior evidence of cardiovascular disease (CVD), major CVD rates (death, myocardial infarction or stroke) were over four times higher for heavy smokers compared with men who never smoked. These results were recently uncovered by a study in the European Heart Journal, an official Journal of the ESC.

According to Professor Michal Tendera, President of the ESC, "The ESC strongly believes that the European environment should be smoke free. Smoking has been known as a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease for a long time, but its negative impact may be even stronger than previously considered. Decisions made by the individuals who stop smoking must be enhanced by policies that protect non-smokers. Smoking bans, like those introduced by Ireland and Italy, and their strict enforcement, may have a significant positive impact on public health."

World No Tobacco Day: 31 May 2005, is focused on the role of health professionals in tobacco control. Health Professionals are being called upon to help people change their behaviour and to advise, guide and answer questions related to the consequences of tobacco use, so that they can help patients stop smoking. It is estimated that 1.3 billion people around the world use tobacco, and 4.9 million people die from tobacco use every year. Half of all current tobacco users will eventually die from tobacco-related illnesses. By 2030, the World Bank predicts that smoking will kill about one in six adults globally per year.

The World Health Organization cites brief counselling by health professionals on the dangers of smoking and the importance of quitting as one of the most cost-effective methods of reducing smoking. In addition, health professionals can be instrumental with preventive measures, where they have the opportunity to promote change in the social norm, and forewarn children and adolescents of the dangers of tobacco.

ESC Commitment to Smoking Cessation

The ESC is dedicated to the cessation of smoking in various arenas, including educational products and within numerous initiatives. Created by the ESC in response to a need within CVD prevention for guidelines-based tools, HeartScore is a relatively new computer-based educational tool for CVD risk prediction and management. The program calculates an individual's CVD mortality risk based on an analysis of key risk factors, with smoking highlighted as a pivotal factor, and is available for download free of charge from the ESC Web Site (http://www.escardio.org).

On 29 March 2004, Ireland became the first country in the European Union to implement a public smoking ban in all workplaces, including bars, restaurants and nightclubs. As such, Ireland has become a model for Europe and the rest of the world, and was recognised by the ESC, which awarded the Gold Medal of the ESC to Michel Martin TD, the Minister for Health and Children of Ireland. The ESC was proud to support this major move towards improved public health and the fight against cardiovascular disease, as well as all other diseases related to tobacco consumption. The ESC looks forward to assisting all EU member states in following suit and demonstrating a similar commitment to the heart health of their populations. The ESC will continue its dialogue with the European Union and the European Commission and will pave the way towards improved CVD prevention across Europe.

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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