Skip to content Skip to cookie consent
Skip to content


The secret killer

Did you know that Tobacco is the only widely available product which, when taken as instructed, kills?

2000 Available in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese

Footsteps magazine issues on a wooden desk.

From: Focus on health and dental care – Footsteps 42

Helping people make appropriate decisions about their own health needs

Did you know that:

  • Tobacco is the only widely available product which, when taken as instructed, kills?
  • Tobacco kills four million people each year, far more than malaria?
  • A cigarette has been described as a cleverly made product which gives you just enough nicotine to keep you addicted for life before killing you?

Tobacco companies are now targeting poorer countries to sell cigarettes, since people in richer countries are smoking less. This benefits the shareholders and owners of tobacco companies, but can kill the people who are influenced by their advertisements. Many of these people are so poor they can hardly afford to buy cigarettes and will never be able to pay for treatment when tobacco starts to kill them.

The World Health Organisation has had enough of this trade, which it says will eventually kill one in every two smokers. It is taking powerful action against those who manufacture and promote tobacco by establishing a ‘Tobacco-Free Initiative’. Find out more about this by contacting Gregory Hartl, Health Communications and Public Relations, WHO, Geneva, Switzerland. Fax: +41 22 791 4858 or E-mail: [email protected]

Do you smoke? Does anyone in your family smoke? Do your neighbours smoke? Take your part in fighting tobacco by encouraging your friends and family to stop smoking and by joining any anti-tobacco pressure groups in your neighbourhood. If there isn’t such a group, why not start one? It will save lives.

In the time it has taken you to read this short article, tobacco will have killed 15 more people.

Contributed by Dr Ted Lankester, who works for Interhealth, and is a Footsteps committee member.

Similarly Tagged Content

Share this resource

If you found this resource useful, please share it with others so they can benefit too.

Subscribe to Footsteps magazine

A free digital and print magazine for community development workers. Covering a diverse range of topics, it is published three times a year.

Sign up now - Subscribe to Footsteps magazine

Cookie preferences

Your privacy and peace of mind are important to us. We are committed to keeping your data safe. We only collect data from people for specific purposes and once that purpose has finished, we won’t hold on to the data.

For further information, including a full list of individual cookies, please see our privacy policy.

  • These cookies are necessary for the website to function and cannot be switched off in our systems.

  • These cookies allow us to measure and improve the performance of our site. All information these cookies collect is anonymous.

  • These allow for a more personalised experience. For example, they can remember the region you are in, as well as your accessibility settings.

  • These cookies help us to make our adverts personalised to you and allow us to measure the effectiveness of our campaigns.