0522 GMT January 23, 2018
Researchers said efforts to curb tobacco consumption had been effective, as smoking prevalence decreased by over a third between 1990 and 2015, Independent reported.
However, the study, published in the Lancet Medical Journal also argues that “the war on tobacco is far from won, and policy makers need renewed and sustained efforts to tackle the epidemic”.
Although there has been a marked reduction in the number of smokers globally, there were still nearly one billion smokers in 2015, and half of all the 6.4 million deaths attributed to smoking in 2015 were concentrated in just four countries — China, India, Russia and the US.
Despite an overall global reduction, researchers found that worrying trends persist in some parts of the world.
Russia was one of the only places in the world where rates of smoking actually increased: Female smoking prevalence soared by 56.2 percent between 1990 and 2015.
Researchers said this unusual increase could be linked to the tobacco industry’s aggressive targeting of Eastern Europe.
Indonesia, Bangladesh and the Philippines saw no significant reductions in male smoking prevalence between 1990 and 2015.
Despite global initiatives to discourage smoking, cigarette retail values in 2015 were worth nearly $700 billion.
Industry analysts predict that the international tobacco market will continue to grow, as sales shift from developed countries in Western Europe to emerging markets in Asia and Africa.
Professor John Britton, director of the UK Center for Tobacco Studies, said: “Today, the smoking epidemic is being exported from the rich world to low-income and middle-income countries, slipping under the radar while apparently more immediate priorities occupy and absorb scarce available human and financial resources.
“The epidemic of tobacco deaths will progress inexorably throughout the world until and unless tobacco control is recognized as an immediate priority for development, investment, and research.”
Dr. Emmanuela Gakidou, a senior author of the study, said: “There have been some success stories, but smoking remains the leading cause of death and disability in 100 countries in 2015.”