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Jan 08, 2014 03:20 AM EST

Number of Smokers and Cigarette Consumption Rapidly Rising Worldwide, Study

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There are currently more number of smokers worldwide than nearly three decades ago, according to a study by led by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington.

The study found that the adult smoker population increased from 721 million to nearly 1 billion between 1980 and 2012. The global consumption of cigarettes also jumped from about 5 trillion to 6.25 trillion.

Among adult smokers, the researchers noticed a 41 percent increase in the number of male daily smokers and a 7 percent increase in females.

However, during the same period, the global smoking rate dropped from 26 percent to 18.7 percent.

Researchers said that the increase in smokers is due to excess population and the growing popularity of cigarettes in nations like Bangladesh, China, Indonesia, and Russia. This behavior is largely overshadowing the significant reduction in smoking rates observed in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and other wealthy countries.

For example, the number of smokers in the U.S. has gone down from 52 million in 1980 to 38 million in 2012.

 "Despite the tremendous progress made on tobacco control, much more remains to be done," Dr. Christopher Murray, IHME Director, said in a statement. "We have the legal means to support tobacco control, and where we see progress being made we need to look for ways to accelerate that progress. Where we see stagnation, we need to find out what's going wrong."

Matthew Myers, president of the Washington, D.C.-based Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said that the study indicates that there is a lot of work that needs to be done in developing and poorer countries, Seattle Times reports.

The study released Tuesday, coincides with the 50th anniversary of the first US Surgeon General's report on the health risks of smoking. For the study, the researchers collected data from 187 countries.

According to World Health Organization, smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer. Tobacco-related illness kills nearly 6 million people each year worldwide.

"Change in tobacco prevalence typically has been slow, underscoring what a hard habit it is to break," Emmanuela Gakidou, Professor of Global Health and Director of Education and Training at IHME, said. "But we know from these global trends that rapid progress is possible. If more countries were able to repeat the success we have seen in Norway, Mexico, and the United States, we would see much less health loss from smoking."

The study 'Smoking Prevalence and Cigarette Consumption in 187 Countries, 1980-2012,' has been published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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