This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Friday, August 17, 2012

The World is Still Smokin' Hot

And, no, I'm not talking about global warming, although the world is clearly getting hotter. The smoking in this case is tobacco use, which is generally on the decline in more developed countries, but on the rise in less developed countries and that is a troubling trend for global health levels. A paper just published in The Lancet and reported on NBC News analyzes a new set of survey data.
Between Oct 1, 2008, and March 15, 2010, GATS used nationally representative household surveys with comparable methods to obtain relevant information from individuals aged 15 years or older in 14 low-income and middle-income countries (Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Mexico, Philippines, Poland, Russia, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, Uruguay, and Vietnam). We compared weighted point estimates and 95% CIs of tobacco use between these 14 countries and with data from the 2008 UK General Lifestyle Survey and the 2006—07 US Tobacco Use Supplement to the Current Population Survey. All these surveys had cross-sectional study designs.
Women in developing countries are starting to smoke at younger ages, according to a study that found "alarming patterns" of tobacco use around the world.
Despite years of anti-smoking measures being encouraged across the world, most developing countries have low quit rates, and tobacco is likely to kill half its users.
The key to lowering tobacco use is to prevent people from starting in the first place and since teenagers are more susceptible to the peer pressure to smoke than are most other ages, preventing teenage smoking is probably the single most important strategy. I was thinking about that today because tomorrow is my high school's 50th reunion. My wife and I went to high school together and none of our friends smoked then, and none do now. Not ever starting was the key. Of course there were people who smoked, but they mainly did it behind the gym and in other covert ways because there was a clear normative proscription against it. As I noted before, 10 percent of our classmates have died, and I suspect that a disproportionate share of them were smokers...

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