94 percent of world exposed to tobacco smoke

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The World Health Organization (WHO) said that only 5.4 percent of the world's population are protected by comprehensive smoke free laws.

The WHO said in its Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic 2009 that urgent action is needed to protect people from the death and illness caused by exposure to tobacco smoke.

It claims that second hand smoke causes around 600,000 premature deaths a year. Dr Ala Alwan said: "There is no safe level of exposure to second hand tobacco smoke. Therefore, action is needed by governments to protect their people."

Seven countries passed comprehensive smoke free laws in 2008 - Colombia, Djibouti, Guatemala, Mauritius, Panama, Turkey and Zambia.

The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control is ratified by nearly 170 countries.

The WHO reckons that tobacco use kills over five million people a year, a figure that could rise to eight million by 2030 with over 80 percent of the deaths occurring in low and middle income countries.

Twenty two of the world's 100 most populous cities are smoke free, said the WHO. Tobacco smoke free, that is.