New Study Finds Global Smoking Rates on Decline but Shows More Work Is Still Needed

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On March 21, 2017, Gravely et al published a study1 in Lancet Public Health on the 2003 global tobacco control treaty’s impact on the adoption of tobacco-reduction measures around the world, which has led to a 2.5% reduction in global smoking rates. The treaty obligates the 180 countries committed to it to implement strong evidence-based policies. Although the United States did sign on in 2004, it has never ratified this treaty.

“This report indicates that progress in combatting tobacco-related morbidity and mortality is possible at a global level. ASCO is encouraged by the overall reduction in tobacco use and lifestyle changes in society indicated through this research. However, this study also points to gaps and reveals there is still much work ahead,” said Graham Warren, MD, PhD, Chair of ASCO’s Tobacco Cessation and Control Subcommittee.

Though the study found that on average smoking rates across the 126 countries went down from 24.7% in 2005 to 22.2% in 2015—a reduction of 2.5%—the trends varied across countries. Smoking rates did decrease in 90 countries, but they also increased in 24 and remained stagnant in 12.

While implementing smoke-free public places was the most frequent measure used across 28% of the countries in the study, other key actions suggested have not been effected. Advertising bans, which have been shown to reduce the number of people who start smoking, especially among youth, were the least frequent measure put into place. Further, the report notes the tobacco industry’s heavy influence in low- and middle-income countries.

According to the World Health Organization, tobacco use still causes nearly six million deaths a year globally. ASCO supports efforts to reduce the worldwide use of tobacco and is committed to reducing the toll of smoking-related cancer deaths in addition to its commitment to reducing cancer ­disparities. ■


1. Gravely S, Giovino GA, Craig L, et al: Implementation of key demand-reduction measures of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and change in smoking prevalence in 126 countries: An association study. Lancet Public Health. March 21, 2017 (early release online).

© 2017. American Society of Clinical Oncology. All rights reserved.




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