Tags: one | billion | smokers

One Billion Smokers: Number Who Light Up Globally Nears Milestone

Wednesday, 08 Jan 2014 04:15 PM

By Ken Mandel

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The number of smokers in the world is nearing 1 billion, despite the practice becoming less popular in certain parts of the world, the total number of smokers is increasing.

The number of smokers globally has risen to 967 million in 2012 from 721 million in 1980, according to data from an Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation study collected from 187 countries. The IHME suggested the increase could be as a result on population growth during that period.

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Overall, age-standardized smoking prevalence fell by 42 percent for women and 25 percent for men in that 32-year period. The research tied the population increase to a 41 percent hike in the number of male smokers and a 7 percent bump for females.

Geographically, Bangladesh, China, and Russia have seen large increases recently among the numbers of smokers.

An estimated 6.25 trillion cigarettes were smoked by people in 2012 compared with 4.96 trillion in 1980, the study said.

By contrast, the lowest smoking rates for men were found in Antigua and Barbuda, Sao Tome and Principe, and Nigeria. For women, smoking rates were lowest in Eritrea, Cameroon, and Morocco.

"Despite the tremendous progress made on tobacco control, much more remains to be done," IHME Director Dr. Christopher Murray said in a news release. "We have the legal means to support tobacco control, and where we see progress being made we need to look for ways to accelerate that progress. Where we see stagnation, we need to find out what's going wrong."

The study, Smoking Prevalence and Cigarette Consumption in 187 Countries, was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

In some parts of the world, countries including Canada, Iceland, Norway, and Mexico waged successful campaigns aimed at getting citizens to either quit or never start. In the United States, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids has tried to promote giving up cigarettes.

Last month, website Upworthy.com posted an ad from Thailand with the headline, which it called the "best anti-smoking ad ever." It depicts children running up to adult smokers and asking for a light.

The World Health Organization says millions more people can be saved with continued implementation of increased cigarette taxes and smoke-free air laws.

"As the overall number of smokers worldwide is still rising, this study shows how important it is for all countries to implement a range of tobacco control measures to curb the terrible toll of tobacco-related illness and death," Amanda Sandford of Action on Smoking and Health told BBC News. "Low- and middle-income countries in particular face an enormous challenge to fend off the powerful tobacco industry and stop smoking rates escalating."

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