Tobacco use worldwide is still at alarming levels. Studies show that countries with stiffest tobacco taxes, aggressive public health education and active public smoking bans amongst other anti-tobacco interventions generally have lower numbers of smokers. It is important to keep in mind that in the scope of this article tobacco prevalence and tobacco numbers have marked differences. Prevalence refers to the density of smokers per given population whilst numbers which is the topic of this article refers to the actual count.
In terms of prevalence Greece is ranked number one in the world at least according to a 2007 survey. In this context the survey found that 3000 cigarettes were smoked per person in Greece in 2007. It is followed by countries such as Ukraine at number two, Slovenia at number three and Russia at number 6. This means in terms of prevalence Europe is still leading the rest of the world. In terms of number of smokers in each country, China has the highest level of smokers statistically speaking at 350 million smokers.
China easily gets the top most spot in this category also because of its massive population size. Statistical data out of China suggest that over 50 percent of men smoke. Up to 1 million new smokers are added to the overall picture in China with another 1 million thought to die from tobacco related illnesses such as cancer of the lung, high blood pressure and heart disease. In socio-economic terms up to 60 percent of China;s household income in poorest of communities is spent on sustaining tobacco dependency. The most common method of nicotine delivery in China is through smoking tobacco.
In terms of efforts to reduce these numbers, anti-tobacco campaigners have always been critical of the Chinese government accusing it of not taking a hard stance against tobacco use. In China most public places still allow smoking which also means there is a very high prevalence of passive smoking or second hand smoking. It would appear the government earns a lot of revenue through tobacco taxes. In fact tax revenues from the massive tobacco industry in China contributes a huge chunk to national income.
It is certain that without much effort from the government of China to completely control tobacco use, China will remain the country on the planet with the biggest number of smokers. At 350 million and 1 million more each year, it will have to start by a major slow down in the 1 million new addition each year as well as encouraging millions more each year who already smoke to stop smoking.