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July 19, 1995

Young People May Face Huge Tobacco Toll

JAMA. 1995;274(3):203. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03530030025008

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WHEN THE WORLD Health Organization (WHO) broke tradition and observed World No-Tobacco Day outside its Geneva, Switzerland, headquarters in May, it was because the second international congress on children's health in Vancouver, British Columbia, was deemed a more fitting venue. There, Hu Ching-Li, MD, WHO's assistant director-general, presented sobering statistics on the fate millions of youths face if tobacco use patterns remain unchanged.

"It is estimated that, of all beginning smokers who start using tobacco in adolescence and continue smoking throughout their lives, half will be killed by tobacco, and half of those will succumb to a fatal tobacco-caused disease before age 70. Those who die before age 70 from a tobacco-related cause will lose, on average, 22 years of life expectancy," said Hu.

"If current smoking trends persist, WHO estimates that we can expect 200 million to 300 million children and adolescents under 20 currently alive to eventually be

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