Tobacco Atlas Notes Blog

About this blog

Recognizing that the publication of the printed Tobacco Atlas, 4th Edition in March 2012 is a single point in an ever-evolving landscape of emerging data and information, World Lung Foundation, American Cancer Society and the authors of the Tobacco Atlas will endeavor to keep current, reflecting the best, most recent evidence available. This may result in difference between the printed and online versions, and we will also use this blog as a way of posting any differences between the printed and online Atlases, identifying where and why we have decided to make changes. We also urge you to sign up to receive email updates, above right, for alerts about new features, changes or data as it emerges.

Please reach out to us if you have feedback on the Atlas, insights or new data to share. Use the form on the “Connect” link, above.


Michael Eriksen
Judith Mackay
Hana Ross

June 25, 2013: Revising the Estimate of Illicit Trade in Costa Rica for the Online Edition of TA4

In the absence of an academic study or official government data, the Tobacco Atlas reports illicit cigarette trade estimates provided by private market intelligence firms ERC and Euromonitor International. In order to be consistent, we used ERC data as a default source since ERC covers more countries than Euromonitor. However, the two firm’s estimates sometimes differ.

Recently, we were alerted by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) of such a discrepancy in the illicit trade estimate for Costa Rica. The Tobacco Atlas reported ERC’s estimate, which stated that illicit cigarette trade accounted for 47.5% of Costa Rica’s total cigarette market, while Euromonitor reported that illicit trade accounted for just 10.1% of the cigarette market. After consultation with both firms as well as with PAHO experts we have concluded that the Euromonitor figure better estimates the illicit trade situation in Costa Rica. To reflect this change we have revised the estimate of illicit trade share in Costa Rica in the online version of the Atlas to Euromonitor’s estimate of 10.1%.

We still want our readers to exercise caution when using this estimate, since neither of these firms are transparent or explicit about the methods they employ to generate estimates of the size of the illicit cigarette trade (Blecher, Liber, Ross, & Birckmayer, 2013). Only a rigorous, scientifically sound, and transparent study conducted by the government or an academic institution would provide a reliable estimate of the level of illicit trade in Costa Rica, or anywhere else around the world. We want to thank PAHO for alerting us to this data discrepancy and we hope that this episode will spur greater investments of resources into research on the illicit cigarette trade.

Blecher, E., Liber, A., Ross, H., & Birckmayer, J. (2013). Euromonitor data on the illicit trade in cigarettes. Tobacco Control. doi:10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2013-051034

April 17, 2012: Further resources on the costs of smoking

Several colleagues have emailed the authors to remind us of the costs and damage that cigarettes cause through fires and injuries and accidents, such as car crashes. These types of accidents and injuries are entirely preventable and can be reduced if cigarette smoking declines. The following links provide additional information about this topic:

Fire Injuries, Disasters, and Costs from Cigarettes and Cigarette Lights: A Global Overview:
Ignition Strength of 25 International Cigarette Brands:
Cigarette fires and burns in a population of New Zealand smokers:

April 16, 2012: Changes to Illicit Trade in Australia data

Illicit trade numbers for Australia have been changed to reflect more recent and accurate data, from 11.3% to 3.4%. These changes have been made in the interactive maps and datasets but will not be reflected in the downloadable .pdf versions of the Tobacco Atlas until the second printing in mid-2012.

April 16, 2012: Tobacco Industry Divider

Prior to the release of the Tobacco Atlas we were informed of a better data source for calculating the increase in the number of cigarettes produced in the past decade. Therefore, the values of a 16.5% increase in production and 800 billion additional cigarettes being produced will be updated in the second printing and online (pending). Additionally, while the industry now produces 800 billion cigarettes more each year than at the time of the first Tobacco Atlas, they didn’t produce that many during each year between the two Atlases. This will be corrected in the second printing.

March 26, 2012: Welcome to the Tobacco Atlas Notes Blog

It has been truly rewarding to launch the Tobacco Atlas, 4th edition at the World Conference on Tobacco OR Health in Singapore and receive the feedback of our colleagues in the tobacco control community. We see the Tobacco Atlas as a tool of the global tobacco control community, one that is both responsive to its needs and a dynamic document that responds to the changing body of evidence around tobacco.

Happily, the web will allow us to provide a channel for this feedback and collaboration, and this blog a place for authors to note changes in the Atlas, updates, and perhaps share some of the “inside story”. is brought to you by | World Lung Foundation | American Cancer Society