Tobacco smoking

Visualization of narrower problems
Cigarette smoking
Tobacco habit
Smoking epidemic
Nicotine abuse
Chewing tobacco

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.

[Developed countries] In 2001 alone, more than 400,000 Americans will die from smoking-related illnesses.

In Belgium in 1997, the unemployed are the heaviest smokers (one in two); one in five pensioners smoke. Overall, three out of 10, or 30%, of Belgians smoke. The proportion of women, especially teenagers, who smoke has risen most sharply of any sector.

Nicotine is one of the most heavily used addictive drugs in the United States. Cigarette smoking has been the most popular method of taking nicotine since the beginning of the 20th century. In 1998, 60 million Americans were current cigarette smokers (28 percent of all Americans aged 12 and older), and 4.1 million were between the ages of 12 and 17 (18 percent of youth in this age bracket). The 28 percent of Americans who smoke consist heavily of the poor and lower middle classes, about 70 percent have no more than a high school diploma.

In 1997, Greece led in the consumption of tobacco in the European Union, smoking more than 3,000 cigarettes on average per person and year. The most reasonable in this respect are the Finns with only 817 cigarettes.


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.


1. Cigarette consumption seems to be falling since 1995, if one looks at the average for the European Union as a whole.

2. The campaign against cigarette smoking fails to take account of the lack of evidence against pipe smoking.

3. It may be stupid to smoke, but we don't smoke from stupidity. We smoke because we like it.

(D) Detailed problems