Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

More Smokers Kick the Habit

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

More Smokers Kick the Habit

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON -- Americans are rejecting the smoking habit at a surprisingly rapid rate, a trend that is going global.

But there are signs of increased smoking in poor countries and among teenagers and young women in several countries, and deaths blamed on smoking still are rising worldwide.

U.S. cigarette exports are down 25 percent, with 50 billion fewer cigarettes sent abroad in just one year. That is 2.5 billion fewer packs of cigarettes exported each year.

The number of cigarettes sold per person in the United States fell a record 8 percent last year, according to government data and to a Worldwatch analysis that also cites per-capita declines in some of the heaviest-smoking countries: France, Japan and, markedly, China, whose 1.25 billion people now smoke one-third of the world's cigarettes.

The anti-smoking campaign credits smoking bans and increased public awareness of smoking's dangers for the decline. The Agriculture Department cites higher taxes, price increases to offset a $246 billion tobacco settlement with several states, and the cumulative impact of 35 years of warnings from the Surgeon General's Office.

The industry says the decline is directly related to the rising price of cigarettes -- up 80 percent from two years ago.

Smoking has been linked in medical studies to more than 25 diseases, including heart disease, strokes, respiratory illness and several forms of cancer.

The World Health Organization plans to seek a treaty to further clear the global air of tobacco smoke and is promoting World No Tobacco Day on May 31. WHO predicts smoking-related diseases will kill 10 million people annually by the 2020s -- 2 1/2 times the current toll.

But that projection now is challenged by declines in cigarette production, sales and consumption in the United States and scattered parts of the world.

Smoking in the United States dropped from 2,810 cigarettes per person annually a decade ago to 1,633 last year, a 42 percent drop, according to calculations by Worldwatch, an environmental research group. …

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