Number of smokers reaches all-time global high

·2-min read

The number of people smoking around the world has reached an all-time high of 1.1 billion, a new study has revealed.

Experts have urged governments to do more to curb the number of young people taking up smoking, with the age group described as "particularly vulnerable" to becoming addicted.

While much has been done to reduce smoking in some countries, new data released in The Lancet on Thursday showed 150 million more people started smoking in the nine years from 1990.

In 2019, the habit killed almost eight million people, with 89 per cent of new smokers addicted by the age of 25.

"Young people are particularly vulnerable to addiction, and with high rates of cessation remaining elusive worldwide, the tobacco epidemic will continue for years to come unless countries can dramatically reduce the number of new smokers starting each year," said the study's lead author Marissa Reitsma, a researcher at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, reports The Guardian.

While the frequency of smoking has decreased during the last 30 years, it has increased dramatically in certain countries. One in three tobacco smokers live in China, with the country recording 341 million smokers.

Just 10 countries account for two-thirds of the total global population of smokers: China, India, Indonesia, the U.S., Russia, Bangladesh, Japan, Turkey, Vietnam and the Philippines.

On average, non-smokers live ten years longer than smokers, while previous studies have shown at least half of long-term smokers will die from factors linked to the habit.

The researchers analysed data from 204 countries, and although 182 countries signed a 2005 convention on tobacco control, many governments have failed to make progress in reducing the uptake of smoking among 15-to-24-year-olds.

Experts are now calling for a stronger focus on anti-smoking campaigns, including the use of e-cigarettes and flavoured tobacco - which is popular among young people.

"Despite progress in some countries, tobacco industry interference and waning political commitment have resulted in a large and persistent gap between knowledge and action on global tobacco control," said the study's co-author Vin Gupta.

"Bans on advertising, promotion and sponsorship must extend to internet-based media, but only one in four countries have comprehensively banned all forms of direct and indirect advertising."

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