New Study Reveals Enormity of Global Tobacco Epidemic
Nations must act now to reduce tobacco use and save lives
Posted by: Editor | Aug 17, 2012
The Lancet medical journal has just published results of the largest-ever international survey of tobacco use, underscoring both the enormity of the global tobacco epidemic and the urgent need for countries to implement proven strategies that reduce tobacco use and save lives. Without strong action, tobacco is projected to kill one billion people worldwide this century.
The Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) focused on 14 low- and middle-income countries with high rates of tobacco use. The study also included data from the United States and the United Kingdom for comparison purposes.
In just these 16 countries, the study finds there are 852 million tobacco users – 661 million smokers and 247 million smokeless tobacco users. In the 14 low- and middle-income countries surveyed, nearly half of all men (49 percent) use tobacco. While women’s tobacco use rates remain low, women are starting to smoke at younger ages, indicating the harmful impact of tobacco marketing aimed at women and girls.
The study also demonstrates that strong tobacco control policies work. The percentages of smokers who have quit are highest in the U.S., the U.K., Brazil and Uruguay, where tobacco control policies are strongest.
Other key findings:
- China has the most tobacco users (300.8 million), followed by India (274.9 million). China has the most smokers (300.7 million), while India has the most smokeless tobacco users (205.9 million).
- Russia has the highest smoking rate among men (60.2 percent), while Poland has the highest smoking rate among women (24.4 percent).
- India and Bangladesh face unique risks because of high rates of smokeless tobacco use. Just over 25 percent of Indians use smokeless tobacco. Bangladesh has the highest smokeless tobacco rate in the survey (27.9 percent) and the highest rate among women. It’s no surprise that India and Bangladesh have the highest rates of oral cancer in the world.
These charts summarize the survey’s key findings:
Read our statement on the study.