There were nearly eight million smoking-related deaths in 2019, according to global data.
Researchers say the number of smokers around the world has continued to rise and there is particular concern about persistently high smoking rates among young people.
In 2019, the number of smokers worldwide rose to 1.1 billion, with tobacco smoking causing 7.7 million deaths – one in five deaths among men.
A total of 89% of new smokers were addicted by the age of 25, which means protecting young people from nicotine addiction in that window will be critical to tobacco elimination in the next generation, experts say.
Using data from 3,625 nationally representative surveys, the three studies are published by the Global Burden of Disease Collaboration in The Lancet and The Lancet Public Health journals.
They provide global estimates of the prevalence of smoking in 204 countries among men and women aged 15 and over.
This includes the age of initiation, related illnesses and risks in current and former smokers, and an initial analysis of global trends in chewing tobacco use.
The authors, released ahead of World No Tobacco Day on Monday May 31st, urge all countries to urgently adopt and enforce a package of evidence-based guidelines to reduce the prevalence of tobacco use and prevent initiation at a young age.
Professor Emmanuela Gakidou, senior author at the Institute of Health Metrics and Assessment (IHME) at the University of Seattle, Washington, said: “The continued high prevalence of smoking among young people in many countries and the expansion of new tobacco and nicotine products underscore an urgent need for us To double tobacco control.
“If a person does not smoke regularly until the age of 25, they are very unlikely to become a smoker.
“This provides a critical window of opportunity for interventions that can prevent young people from starting smoking and improve their health for the rest of their lives.”
The researchers found that global smoking prevalence has decreased by 27.5% in men and by 37.7% in women since 1990.
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The 10 countries with the highest number of tobacco smokers in 2019 – nearly two-thirds of the world’s tobacco smoking population – are China, India, Indonesia, the United States, Russia, Bangladesh, Japan, Turkey, Vietnam, and the Philippines.
One in three current tobacco smokers (341 million) lives in China, researchers found.
According to the study, there were 4.8 million female smokers in the UK in 2019.
The researchers found that smoking was linked to 1.7 million deaths from ischemic heart disease and 1.6 million deaths from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in 2019.
It has also been linked to 1.3 million deaths from tracheal, bronchus and lung cancer and nearly one million deaths from stroke.
Previous studies indicated that at least one in two long-term smokers dies from causes directly related to smoking and that smokers have an average life expectancy that is 10 years lower than that of nonsmokers.
The data also shows that approximately 87% of tobacco smoking deaths occurred among current smokers.
Only 6% of global tobacco deaths occurred in people who quit smoking at least 15 years ago.
Researchers say this underscores the importance of quitting.
Marissa Reitsma, lead author of studies on smoking, IHME, said: “With nine out of ten smokers starting before age 25, ensuring young people stay smoke-free by their mid-twenties will radically reduce smoking rates for the next Generation. “
In 2019, there were an estimated 155 million smokers between the ages of 15 and 24 – that’s 20.1% of young men and 5.0% of young women worldwide.
Two-thirds (65.5%) of all current smokers started smoking by age 20 and 89% of smokers started smoking by age 25.
Between 1990 and 2019, the smoking prevalence among young people worldwide fell, both among young men (minus 32.9%) and among young women (minus 37.6%).
The authors note limitations in the three studies, including the fact that tobacco use data are self-reported, initiation age may be subject to recall bias, and the health effects of smoking do not include second-hand smoke.
Modeling by scientists at UCL shows that increasing the sales age to 21 years would reduce the number of smokers by 30% from 364,000 to 255,000 in the first year.
After the first year, 18,000 new smokers would be prevented each year.
According to Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), now is the time for the UK government to deliberate on this measure.
ASH General Manager Deborah Arnott said, “Raising the sales age to 21 could save more than 100,000 people from a deadly addiction that many will fight to end their lives.
“And that’s only in the first year.
“If we are to achieve the government’s vision of a smoke-free country by 2030, this is the kind of bold action that is needed.”