Passive smoking, or inhaling the smoke from nearby smokers, has been killing more people than lung cancer, a new World Health Organization study has shown.
The worldwide death rate for second hand smoke inhalation is about 600,000 each year. The largest illness caused by passive smoking is heart disease, with an estimated 379,000 deaths per year. An additional 165,000 deaths are caused by lower respiratory infections, and almost 37,000 deaths are due to asthma related illnesses caused by passive smoking. Lung cancer deaths, in comparison, kill only 21,400 people each year.
The study was published in Lancet, a medical journal, and goes on to point out that about 67% of all the passive smoking deaths occurred in Africa and South Asia.
The study also concluded that children are among the largest number of victims, numbering about 165,000 deaths due to second hand smoke.