New Study Finds Global Smoking Rates on Decline, Shows More Work is Still Needed

March 23, 2017
ASCO Staff

ASCO Perspective

"This report indicates that progress in combatting tobacco-related morbidity and mortality is possible at a global level. ASCO is encourage 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.”

  • Graham Warren, MD, PhD, chair of ASCO’s Tobacco Cessation and Control Subcommittee

This week, Lancet Public Health published a study 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. While the U.S. signed on in 2004, it has never ratified this treaty.

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 decreased in 90 countries, but also increased in 24 and remained stagnant in 12.

Establishing smoke-free public places was the most frequently adopted measure across 28% of the countries in the study, yet other steps to deter tobacco use were found to be lacking. Advertising bans, which have been shown to reduce the number of people who start smoking, especially among youth, were the least frequent measure implemented by countries. Further, the report notes the tobacco industry’s heavy influence in low- and middle-income countries.

According to WHO, 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.

Learn more about ASCO’s tobacco cessation and control efforts.