About 800 million adult men worldwide smoke cigarettes. Almost 20% of the world’s adult male smokers live in high-income countries, while over 80% are in low- and middle-income countries.
The global tobacco epidemic can be segmented into four stages: the onset of the epidemic; a dramatic increase in smoking; a decline in smoking prevalence; and, several decades later, an increase in smoking-related illnesses and disease. In general, countries in the first stage have smokers who are wealthier, more educated, and referred to as “early adopters” and “innovators.” These individuals quit sooner, but their smoking behavior is imitated by lower-income, less-educated groups who are more likely to retain the habit over time, find it more difficult to quit, and are unequipped to deal with the harm that smoking causes. While countries may have similar prevalence rates, each country’s location on the curve is important. Countries on the upslope of the trajectory are in the early stages of the epidemic and experience different challenges than those countries on the downslope.
Tobacco marketing associates male smoking with masculinity, happiness, wealth, virility, and power. In reality, smoking kills nearly 4 million men annually and leads to infertility, health disparities, illness, and premature death. Overall, smoking prevalence rates are declining, but the number of smokers is increasing due to general population growth. Even the most successful tobacco control programs can only desire to cap the number of new tobacco users. People are increasingly using innovative and alternative products, such as oral tobacco, electronic cigarettes, and nicotine replacement therapy, to obtain nicotine. As we continue to monitor smoking rates throughout the world, we must become increasingly cognizant of these alternative manners of maintaining nicotine addiction (see Topic – Nicotine Delivery Systems).
the public Says:
When I began smoking, about 80 percent of men were smokers. The advertising phrase was, ‘You’re healthy when a cigarette tastes so good.’Masanobu Mizuno, plaintiff in a suit against Japan Tobacco, Japan, 2009
THE INDUSTRY Says:
I’m no cowboy and I don’t ride horseback, but I like to think I have the freedom the Marlboro man exemplifies. He’s the man who doesn’t punch a clock. He’s not computerized. He’s a free spirit.George Weissman, Former President and CEO, Philip Morris USA, 1978