Asia hit hard by smoking epidemic

26 Jul 2010

Smoking rates in Asia set to double (c) Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.The number of people dying from smoking-related lung cancer in Asia over the next 20 years will double, according to new Australian research.

The George Institute of Global Health recently released a study that said a third of the world’s smokers live in the Asia-Pacific region; however, Asian countries are slow to take up anti-smoking initiatives.

According to the research, smoking rates are also particularly high in very populous countries such as China, South Korea and Bangladesh.

The report’s author Dr Alexandra Martiniuk said on the institute’s website that if people in the region’s developing countries continued to smoke at the current rate, there would be twice the amount of lung cancer deaths due to smoking.

“The benefits of quitting are enormous and smoking cessation urgently needs to be embraced by governments in the region”, said Dr Martiniuk.

The World Bank has called for new research to support smoking cessation initiatives in low to middle-income countries where the impact of smoking is greatest.

Smokers in these countries who develop lung cancer have a much lower chance of survival than those in high-income countries because they receive a later diagnosis and less effective treatment.

Up to 80 per cent of people with lung cancer in the US and Australia survive – compared with just 9 per cent in Asia-Pacific.

Dr Martiniuk said that for countries to curb their smoking epidemics they should first adopt the international treaty, the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, and follow through with its guidelines.

“This has shown to be hugely successful in other developing countries and an ideal first step,” she added.

More information

The George Institute of Global Health website

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