LAHORE - Tobacco epidemic kills 5.4 million people every year from lung cancer, heart diseases and other illnesses - more than HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined. Tobacco epidemic is man-made and entirely preventable. This was revealed by the speakers at a workshop 'Gender and Tobacco with an Emphasis on Marketing to Women organised by the Pakistan Medical Society in connection with World No Tobacco Day at a local school here on Monday. The speakers said if current trends continue, tobacco use could kill more than eight million people per year by 2030, and up to one billion people in total in the 21st century. Tobacco use is a risk factor for six of the eight leading causes of deaths in the world. Speaking on the occasion, Member Punjab Assembly Dr Zamurd Yasmeen Rana said that there was no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke. Creating 100 per cent smoke-free environment was the only way to protect people from the harmful effects of second-hand tobacco smoke. Tragically, the epidemic was shifting towards the developing world, where 80 per cent of tobacco-related deaths would occur within a few decades, she added. PMS Chairman Dr Masood Akhtar Sheikh said that there were more than 4,000 chemicals in tobacco smoke, of which at least 250 were known to be harmful and more than 50 were known to cause cancer. Civil societies should encourage governments to pay particular attention to protecting women from the tobacco companies attempts to lure them into lifetimes of nicotine dependence. World No Tobacco Day 2010 was designed to draw particular attention to the harmful effects of tobacco marketing towards women and girls, he said. Dr Masood added that women were a major target of opportunity for the tobacco industry, which needed to recruit new users to replace the nearly half of current users who would die prematurely from tobacco-related diseases.