MANILA, Philippines - Tobacco use is massively entrenched in developing countries, including the Philippines, where one of the biggest worries is the rise of smoking among women, according to a study published on Friday in The Lancet.
A survey of 16 countries that are home to three billion people found that 48.6% of all men and 11.3% of women are tobacco users, especially in poorer economies, where more girls are starting to smoke early and often at the same age as boys.
The survey showed 14.6 million of Filipino males and 2.8 million Filipinas ages 15 years or older smoke cigarettes or other tobacco products.
The study showed that Filipinas who smoked averaged 6.9 cigarettes a day compared to 15.5 cigarettes per day for female smokers in Poland.
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The data trawl covered a survey of tobacco habits among people aged over 15 in Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Mexico, the Philippines, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, Uruguay and Vietnam, as well as Britain, Poland, Russia and the United States, from 2008 to 2010.
The surveys covered smoking as well as chewing tobacco -- an oral carcinogenic that is especially popular in India, with 205 million users -- and snuff.
Topping the table was Russia, where 39.1% of all over-15s used tobacco, followed by Turkey (31.2 %), Poland (30.3%), the Philippines (28.2%) and China, with 28.1%.
By comparison, prevalence in Britain was 21.7% and 19.9% in the United States.
Policies to discourage or restrict tobacco use are few and flawed in many countries, according to the study, headed by Gary Giovino from the University at Buffalo in New York state.
In low-income countries, for every $9,100 received in tobacco taxes, only $1 was spent on tobacco control.
At present, the proportion of deaths from tobacco is greatest in rich countries, where 18% of deaths are attributable to tobacco use, compared to 11% in middle-income countries and 4% in low-income countries.
But smoking rates have been rising steadily in poorer countries and falling in rich ones, so these positions are likely to change, the study said.
On current trends, as many as a billion people could die prematurely from tobacco use during this century, the study said, citing estimates by World Health Organisation (WHO) experts. -- Report by Agence France-Presse