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Human Development - Public Health

Adult Smokers: China, Selected European Countries, USA, India, 2002 (in % of total male and female population)


Note: Latest available estimates.

Sources: Mackay, Judith / Eriksen, Michael (2002): The Tobacco Atlas. Geneva, The World Health Organization (WHO), World Tables: Table A

According to the most recent estimates by the World Health Organization, China has one of the highest rates of smokers among its male population - more than two thirds of the adult males are smokers. Only Russia and some eastern European countries come close to this high prevalence of smoking in China. In India, by comparison, the percentage of smokers among adult males, is less than half of China. Only some 30 percent of the adult males are smoking in India.

In the European nations of Germany, France, and Spain around 40% of the males are smoking - some 15% more than in the United States of America. Only the United Kingdom and Finland have rates of male smokers that are comparable with the USA. In Sweden, on the other hand, less than 20% of the males are smoking.

The situation among females is completely different: In our selection of countries, China and India have the lowest rates of female smokers - only 3 to 5 percent. Female smokers are also rare in the Russian Federation. Very high rates of female smokers, however, can be found in Norway, Germany, and France - where roughly 30 percent of all adult females are smoking. In the US the proportion of female smokers is around 22 percent.

With these data we can predict a serious health crisis for China's male population. As in Russia and Eastern Europe, smoking will become the number one health problem for the male population in China - with high rates of lung cancer, cardio-vascular diseases and other smoking-related health problems.

The United States and India have a much lower risk of smoking-related public health crises than China and most European countries. This is a clear advantage for the development of the United States and India, since these countries will save huge amounts of smoking-related public health expenditures. According to estimates of the WHO, smoking is one of the most cost-intensive public health risks.

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CHINA - EUROPE - USA: Who will win the global race. Vienna, Austria (Web Site, Revision Beta 0.3)

Copyright 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 by Gerhard K. Heilig. All rights reserved.