Smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the USA and causes 400,000 deaths per year.
[Developing countries] A particularly pressing cause for concern is the increase in tobacco production and consumption in the developing countries. According to FAO, tobacco production in the developing countries rose by 28% between 1969-71 and 1977, while in the developed countries it rose by only 15%. World consumption of tobacco rose by about 3-4% annually during the decade 1965-1975; in 1975 and 1976 consumption slowed down in the developed countries, but continued to rise in the developing countries by about 5% per annum. In 1980 one-third more Africans smoked than in 1970. In Latin America 20% more people were smoking and in Asia the figure was 23%.
China today has the biggest smoking habit in the world with an estimated 300 million smokers out of 900 million adults, accounting for 30 percent of the world's consumption of tobacco. However per capita consumption of cigarettes is less per day in China (16) than in western countries (22), though there are signs of this rising. The Chinese state owned tobacco company is now the largest tobacco producer in the world, in 1995, providing $8.6 billion to government funds. 61 percent of men in China smoke compared to 29 percent in America. The sheer size of the market in China has each of the western tobacco companies poised waiting for China to drop its barriers against foreign tobacco; a condition now placed on China for entry to the World Trade Organisation.
Research conducted in India, Jamaica, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, and Singapore has linked smoking to cancer of the lung, oral cavity, oesophagus, and to bronchitis and peptic ulcers, and points to it as a risk factor in cardiovascular diseases. If forceful government action is not taken promptly in developing countries, the smoking epidemic is likely to spread there within the next decade, affecting their populations with the numerous smoking related diseases before communicable diseases and malnutrition have been brought under adequate control.
Cigarettes labeled "light" do not necessarily deliver less nicotine to the smoker. Although low-nicotine cigarettes contain filters that dilute the inhaled smoke with air, smokers can extract the amount of nicotine desired by taking longer and more frequent puffs. Smokers may also block ventilation holes with their lips or fingers, thus increasing nicotine exposure.
Cigarette consumption seems to be falling since 1995, if one looks at the average for the European Union as a whole.