Unexpected high rates of tobacco use

EMBARGO: 00:01H (London time) Friday February 17, 2006. In North America the embargo lifts at 18:30H ET Thursday February 16, 2006.

In many regions of the world, the difference in current cigarette smoking between boys and girls is narrower than expected, according to an Article published online today (Friday February 17, 2006) by The Lancet.

In the Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS), Charles Warren (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA, USA) and colleagues surveyed around 750 000 students aged 13-15 years from 131 countries and the Gaza Strip and West Bank about tobacco use. They found that overall nearly 9% of students were current smokers and 11% currently used tobacco products other than cigarettes. They also found that the difference in current cigarette smoking between boys and girls is smaller than the difference between men and women. Almost one in five never-smokers reported that they were susceptible to smoking in the next year, more than four in ten students had high exposure to secondhand smoke at home, and five in ten had high exposure in public places.

Dr Warren states: "Tobacco use is a major worldwide contributor to deaths from chronic diseases, and findings from the GYTS suggest current dire warnings that the annual death toll will double to 10 million by 2020 may be a conservative estimate. The true toll from tobacco use could be even greater with high rates of non-cigarette tobacco use and high rates of smoking among young girls.

"Reduction of tobacco consumption will require a redoubling of efforts to prevent initiation and promote cessation among the large proportion of young people who currently use tobacco. High exposure to secondhand smoke suggests a need for countries to pass strong and effective smoke-free policies," he adds. (Exact quote not in published paper; sent via e-mail)

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Contact: Dr Charles W Warren, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Office on Smoking and Health (OSH), 4770 Buford Hwy NE, MS-K50, Atlanta, GA 30341-3717, USA. T) 770-488-5493 wcw1@cdc.gov


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