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Results for Biggest Study on Global Tobacco Use Revealed

Update Date: Aug 17, 2012 11:01 AM EDT
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The World Health Organization just released "the largest survey to date on international tobacco use," and while New York seems to be experiencing record rates of smoke cessation and dwindling numbers of tobacco use, in other parts of the world the numbers have soared. 

According to the report, nearly half of all men and more than 1 out of 10 women use tobacco in some form or other in many "developing" countries. If rates continue, officials claim that tobacco can claim the lives of more than 1 billion people in the next century.

"Our data reflects industry efforts to promote tobacco use," said lead study author Gary Giovino of the School of Public Health and Health Professions at the University at Buffalo in New York, in the statement from WHO. "These include marketing and mass media campaigns by companies that make smoking seem glamorous, especially for women. The industry's marketing efforts also equate tobacco use with Western themes, such as freedom and gender and racial equality."

(More: Inequality in smoking: Blacks more at risk for Smoking Related Health Problems)

The study, called the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS), looked at smoking trends among people ages 15 and older from 16 low-and middle-income countries--including Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Mexico, the Philippines, Poland, Russia, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, Uruguay and Vietnam-and compared them to statistics gathered from the United States and the United Kingdom.

Time's HealthLand reports that about 49% of men and 11% of women in the countries studied use tobacco, both smoked and otherwise. Additionally, the countries with the highest rates of quitters were the U.S. and the U.K., while the lowest cessation rates were China, India, Russia, and Egypt.

Statistics showed that China had the largest number of tobacco users overall, at over 301 million people, followed by India, which comes as little surprise since population rates in those ciountries are highest.

According to WHO Russia, the Ukraine, and Turkey have the highest rates of adolescent and young adult users. CNN also reports that in Egypt, tobacco use has dramatically increased, purportedly as a result of the revolution.

The report indicates that while tobacco smokers in the U.S. have decreased 13 percent while pipes and cigar smoking has increased in 123 percent, officials have not calculated the rise of marijuana use in the U.S. and the use of pipes and cigar paper to smoke it.  

Giovino notes that in order to decrease tobacco consumption worldwide a countries government, tobacco industry and its consumers must work together improve the numbers.  A spreading trend, for example, is the plain packaging of cigareetes adorned with gruesome dipictions of the medical consequences of smoking. 

TimeLand quotes, "All three have a role to play in changing the trends, but experience tells us that the interplay between pro-tobacco and anti-tobacco forces is what determines trends in tobacco use," says Giovino. "So we want to reduce the pro-tobacco forces and increase anti-tobacco forces."

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