Lighting up around the world

Ready to quit?

By Anna Ford

With World No Tobacco Day right around the corner on May 31st we took a look at data from the World Health Organization’s 2011 Tobacco Free Initiative report on smoking trends. Many of the countries in the WHO report were considered middle-income but we felt it was important to also represent the United States and France, which fall under the high-income bracket for the comparison.

The Russian Federation leads the pack so to speak in smoking with 60.2% of men and 21.7% of women as regular smokers. China’s men had the second largest percentage of smokers at 52.9% in our comparison but only 2.4% of women in China smoke regularly. Of course the big surprise percentage wise is France, where only 33.3% of men smoke but 26% of women smoke, the largest percentage of women by country included in the study. Nigerian’s had the lowest percentage of with 9% of men and a tiny 0.2% of women lighting up regularly.

Each country except the Russian Federation have laws that prohibit smoking in places but the surprise here is that the United States has no national laws prohibiting smoking with the exception of in government offices. Nigeria has the greatest number of areas where smoking is outlawed and France has disallowed smoking in a vast number of facilities but has made accommodations for those who smoke by providing areas in public spaces.

For those who want to quit most countries have access to both nicotine replacement therapy and smoking cessation programs. The Russian Federation, the United States and France all have toll-free quit lines available. China does not.  Nicotine replacement therapy (like patches and gum) and medications are available in all five countries but programs to help people quit are few and far between and in the Russian Federation programs are only available in hospitals where surprisingly, you can still smoke.