World Bulletin / News Desk
Two fifths of men in developing countries still smoke or use tobacco, and women are increasingly starting to smoke at younger ages, according to a large international study which found "alarming patterns" of tobacco use.
Despite years of anti-smoking measures across the world, most developing countries have low quit rates, according to the study in The Lancet medical journal on Friday.
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 Gary Giovino of the University at Buffalo School of Public Health and Health Professionsin New York, who led the research.
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 Organisation (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. Ot her forms of tobacco use include snuff or chewing tobacco.
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 percent versus 5 percent in women - and wide variation in smoking prevalence, ranging from about 22 percent of men in Brazil to more than 60 percent 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 inthe 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.
Guinea's President Alpha Conde announced new emergency measures in Ebola fight on Saturday
'Meetings happened. Action didn’t,' says Medecins Sans Frontieres report.
WHO said that on many levels, the world is better prepared now than ever before for aflu pandemic
Myanmar health officals say an outbreak of H5N1 bird flu in Mandalay
Tokyo Electric said it has been aware since last spring that radiation levels in water running in one of the plant gutters rise when it rains
Safe drinking water is available at about one-third of the level it was before the conflict erupted nearly five years ago, and supplies are cut-off to punish civilians at times
Elephants in Angola, which suffered decades of civil war, have been observed avoiding heavily-mined areas, suggesting their trunks were warning them to stay away.
Favipiravir halved death rate among some to 15 pct, but WHO says more research required on drug
The first medicine containing stem cells to treat a rare condition caused by burns to the eye has approved.
940 parasite samplescollected at 55 malaria treatment centres across Myanmar and its border regions. They found that almost 40 percent of the samples had mutations in their so-called kelch gene, K13 -- a known genetic signal of artemisinin drug resistance.
Yaws is known to be prevalent in 12 countries in areas where people have little access to healthcare, mainly in West and Central Africa, Asia and the Pacific Islands.
In the past few years, Nepal has seen the numbers of endangered species, such as the Royal Bengal tiger or the one-horned rhino, rise.
The investment would represent as little as 0.1 percent of current national health spending of the low and middle-income countries affected by NTD.
Nearly 1,000 abandoned California sea lions have washed ashore this year in what rehabilitation centers say is a growing crisis for the animals.
West Africa cases of Ebola show the first decrease in three weeks.
"Marijuana fools the brain's feeding system."scientist Tamas Horvath said.