Where Are the Smokers? Start with Greece, Bulgaria, and Macedonia

Girl smoking outdoors

Interesting update yesterday from National Public Radio (NPR) on cigarette use.

We have reached the 50th anniversary of the landmark US Surgeon General’s report exposing the dangers associated with smoking, including lung cancer. The proportion of Americans who smoke cigarettes has dropped fairly dramatically. About 19 percent of American adults smoke these days, compared with about 42 percent in 1965. Smoking has become less prevalent in other countries, too, including Canada, Mexico and Iceland. Worldwide, smoking dropped 10 percentage points to 31 percent among men in 2012, from 41 percent in 1980. For women, it has been almost halved, falling from about 11 percent to 6 percent over the same period.

Where is smoking common? To see a global map, pleasego to: http://viz.healthmetricsandevaluation.org/tobacco/. Greece, Bulgaria and Macedonia look like the burning tip of a cigarette on the map. Russia, France and Austria aren’t far behind. Smoking has gone up recently in Sweden, Belarus and Mexico. It’s down in the U.S., Hungary and Argentina.

Bottom line: Worldwide, there were 967 million people who smoked in 2012, compared with 721 million in 1980. I’m Dr. Michael Hunter.

Reference: The numbers were crunched by The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) is an independent global health research center at the University of Washington (Seattle, USA) that provides rigorous and comparable measurement of the world’s most important health problems and evaluates the strategies used to address them. IHME makes this information freely available so that policymakers have the evidence they need to make informed decisions about how to allocate resources to best improve population health.

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Harvard AB Yale MD UPenn Radiation Oncology Radiation Oncologist, Seattle area

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