The headline above comes from a story published on April 6, 2017, by United Press International reporting on an April 5th study published in The Lancet showing that 11% of all deaths world-wide were due to smoking. This translates into 6.4 million deaths due to smoking each year.
The study also showed that half of those deaths occur in only four countries. Those countries are the United States, Russia, China and India. These numbers are in spite of the fact that most all smokers know the risks and health hazards associated with smoking.
In spite of the facts and figures about the health risks, the study showed that almost 1 billion people worldwide are daily smokers. The numbers are much higher for men that woman. The actual percentage of smokers has actually gone down over the past few decades, but due to the rise in population, the number of smokers has increased.
In the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 15 of every 100 U.S. adults age 18 and older smoke cigarettes. Worldwide, India has 11.2% of the world’s total smokers. More men than women smoke but the study showed that USA, China and India, which were the leading three countries in total number of female smokers, accounted for 27.3% of the world’s female smokers. The countries with the most male daily smokers in 2015 were China with 254 million, India with 91 million, and Indonesia with 50 million. The countries with the most female smokers were the Unites States with 17 million, followed by China with 14 million, and India with 13.5 million.
“Despite more than half a century of unequivocal evidence of the harmful effects of tobacco on health, today, 1 in every 4 men in the world is a daily smoker,” said study author Dr. Emmanuela Gakidou, in a press release. “Smoking remains the second-largest risk factor for early death and disability, and so to further reduce its impact we must intensify tobacco control to further reduce smoking prevalence and attributable burden.”
A similar study published in JAMA Internal Medicine late last year showed that 28.6% of all cancer deaths in the US in 2015 were attributable to cigarette smoking. In the conclusion of that study, the authors wrote, “The proportion of cancer deaths attributable to cigarette smoking varies substantially across states and is highest in the South, where up to 40% of cancer deaths in men are caused by smoking. Increasing tobacco control funding, implementing innovative new strategies, and strengthening tobacco control policies and programs, federally and in all states and localities, might further increase smoking cessation, decrease initiation, and reduce the future burden of morbidity and mortality associated with smoking-related cancers.”
In an ongoing attempt to reduce the number of smokers worldwide, in 2003 the World Health Organization created the Framework Convention for Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC). The WHO FCTC created guidelines to provide the foundation for countries to implement and manage tobacco control programs. In 2008, the WHO FCTC created the MPOWER measures to help implement the tobacco control measures.
Dr. Douglas Bettcher, Director of the Department of Prevention of Noncommunicable Diseases at WHO headquarters in Geneva stated, “The WHO FCTC and its guidelines provide the foundation for countries to implement and manage tobacco control. The MPOWER measures help make this a reality and have changed the landscape of global tobacco control.” Dr. Bettsher continued, “Along with national and local governments and other partner organizations in high-burden countries, we are making positive change happen in some of the toughest tobacco industry strongholds. Together, we have protected nearly 1.8 billion people with at least one new MPOWER measure at the highest level of achievement since 2007.”