Global toll of smoking revealed as study finds women are starting habit at increasingly younger age
The World Health Organisation estimates tobacco kills around 6 million people a year worldwide60% of men in Russia and 52.9% of men in China smoke
Most developing nations found to have low quit rates

By
Claire Bates

PUBLISHED:

14:37 GMT, 17 August 2012

|

UPDATED:

14:37 GMT, 17 August 2012

More women than ever are starting to smoke as earlier in life, say scientists

More women than ever are starting to smoke as earlier in life, say scientists

Women are increasingly starting to smoke at younger ages, according to a large international study which found 'alarming patterns' of tobacco use.

While the study, published in The Lancet medical journal, found male smokers far outnumbered females in the 16 countries surveyed, women were picking up the habit earlier.

'Many factors contribute to these changes, including the targeting of tobacco products to
women via multiple media outlets, such as the cinema, and cigarette designs that ease the transition from experimentation to established use,' they wrote.

'Low prices and absence of effective counter-marketing campaigns also contribute to high rates of uptake.'

The study also found two fifths of men in developing countries still smoke or use tobacco and that these countries had low quit rates.

There are wide differences in the
rates of smoking between genders and nations, as well as major
disparities in access to effective anti-smoking treatments.

'Although 1.1 billion people have
been covered by the adoption of the most effective tobacco control
policies since 2008, 83 percent of the world's population are not
covered by two or more of these policies,' said study leader Gary
Giovino of the University at Buffalo in New York.

Measures
include legislation banning smoking in public places, imposing
advertising bans and requiring more graphic health warnings on cigarette
packets.

The findings come as the world's leading tobacco firms, British American Tobacco, Imperial Tobacco, Philip Morris and Japan Tobacco lost a crucial legal appeal in Australia this week against the introduction of plain tobacco packaging.

Australia's planned 'no logo' laws are in line with World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations and are being watched closely by Britain, Norway, New Zealand, Canada and India, which are considering similar measures.

Tobacco kills up to half of its users, according to the WHO.

Smoking causes lung cancer, often fatal, and other chronic respiratory diseases. It is also a major risk factor for cardiovascular diseases, the world's number one killers. Other forms of tobacco use include snuff or chewing tobacco.

Proportion of adults aged 15 years or older who currently smoke cigarettes and other tobacco products

Proportion of adults aged 15 years or older who currently smoke cigarettes and other tobacco products

Matthew L. Myers, president of the
U.S.-based Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said the study 'underscores
the enormity of the global tobacco epidemic'.

'Without
urgent action, tobacco use will claim 1 billion lives this century,' he
said, urging poorer countries to 'act now and address a crisis they can
ill afford.'

Using data
from Global Adult Tobacco Surveys (GATS) carried out between 2008 and
2010, Giovino's team compared patterns of tobacco use and cessation in
people aged 15 or older from 14 low- and middle-income countries. They
included data from Britain and the United States for comparison.

They
found disproportionately high rates of smoking among men – at an
average 41 per cent versus 5 per cent in women – and wide variation in
smoking prevalence, ranging from about 22 per cent of men in Brazil to
more than 60 per cent in Russia.

Rates
of female smoking ranged from 0.5 percent in Egypt to almost 25 percent
in Poland. Women in Britain and the United States also had high smoking
rates, at 21 percent and 16 percent respectively.

The
study found that around 64 percent of tobacco users smoke manufactured
cigarettes, although loose-leaf chewing tobacco and snuff were
particularly common in India and Bangladesh.

With
an estimated 301 million tobacco users, China has more than any other
country, closely followed by India with almost 275 million. Other
countries included in the study were Bangladesh, Mexico, Philippines,
Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, Uruguay and Vietnam. The researchers said the
rise in tobacco use among young women was of particular concern.

In
a commentary about the study also published in The Lancet, Jeffrey
Koplan from Emory University in the United States and Judith Mackay from
the World Lung Foundation in Hong Kong called for more investment in
tobacco control measures, saying current under-funding was
“extraordinary”.

In low income countries, they said, for every $9,100 received in tobacco taxes, only $1 was spent on tobacco control.

The
WHO says tobacco already kills around 6 million people a year
worldwide, including more than 600,000 non-smokers who die from exposure
to second-hand smoke.

By 2030, if current trends continue, it predicts tobacco could kill 8 million people a year.

COUNTRY
MALE SMOKERS 15+ (%)
FEMALE SMOKERS 15+ (%)

China

52.9

2.4

India

24.3

2.9

Bangladesh

44.7

1.5

Vietnam

47.4

1.4

Philippines

47.6

9

Thailand

45.6

3.1

Russia

60.2

21.7

Ukraine

50

11.3

Poland

36.9

24.4

Egypt

37.6

0.5

Turkey

47.9

15.2

Brazil

21.6

13.1

Mexico

24.8

7.8

Uruguay

30.7

19.8

UK

22.8

20.6

USA

24

16.2