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Smoking took 8 million lives in 2019 while smokers reach 1 billion: Study

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Smoking took 8 million lives in 2019 while smokers reach 1 billion: Study
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Smoking took around 8 million lives in 2019 globally, and the number of smokers rose as youth picked the habit, a new study published in The Lancet found, The Guardian reports.

The research that came out on Thursday says that the efforts to stop smoking worldwide had been undermined by population growth. With 150 million more people smoking in the nine years from 1990, the number of smokers reached an all-time high of 1.1 billion, the study inferred.

According to the statistics from the study of the year 2019, 1.7 million deaths were recorded due to ischaemic heart disease, 1.6 accounts for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, 1.3 million deaths from tracheal, bronchus and lung cancer, and around 1 million deaths from stroke.

The study subjected 204 countries. And half of them had made no progress in stopping the habit among 15- to 24-year-olds, with the average age for someone to start smoking was 19, which is legal in most places. In contrast to the falling prevalence of smoking globally over the past three decades, the habit increased among men in 20 countries and women in 12. The ten countries of China, India, Indonesia, The US, Russia, Bangladesh, Japan, Turkey, Vietnam and the Philippines constitute two-thirds of world smokers. And one in three tobacco smokers lives in China.

According to Marissa Reitsma, author of the study, governments need to focus on youngsters taking up smoking as 89 per cent of new smokers were addicted by 25 years of age. She said that the evidence suggested that if the youngsters remain smoke-free through their mid-20s, they would be less likely in ending up smokers, and there will be radical reductions in smoking rates for the next generations. But due to the habit remains uncontrolled globally, the "tobacco epidemic" will continue for years unless countries curb young smokers. Studies before had inferred that at least half of long-term smokers' deaths would be directly linked to smoking, and smokers have an average life expectancy of 10 years less than those who never smoked.

There were 182 countries, including India, that signed the 2005 convention of tobacco control, but enforcing policies to reduce smoking was varied. Researchers believe that high taxation over the product was the most effective policy. Still, a discrepancy was there, making a packet of cigarettes expensive in developed countries and cheap in the middle to low-income countries.

Vin Gupta, the co-author of the study, opined that a more robust commitment is needed to tackle cigarette smoking, including flavoured and e-cigarettes which attracts youth. Gupta added that though there is progress in controlling smoking in certain countries, the tobacco industry's interference and waning political commitment caused the persistent gap between knowledge and action in tobacco control.

The study was part of the Golden Burden of Disease consortium of researchers that studies health issues that lead to death and disabilities.

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