By Vexen Crabtree 2014
|Smoking Rates (2014)|
Lower is better1
|173||Bosnia & Herzegovina||2 233|
|172||Czech Rep.||2 194|
|168||Korea, S.||2 073|
|Area||Smoking Rates (2014)|
Lower is better1
|Middle East...||1 218|
The tables on the right show which countries have the worst (highest) smoking rates and which countries have the fewest smokers, and, the second table shows a breakdown of average national rates of smoking by continent. To find the rate for any particular country, use the "Country Reports" drop down menu at the top of the page.
“Smoking is one of the leading causes of statistics.”
Penguin Dictionary of Modern Humorous Quotations
“It has been estimated that for every 1000 young smokers, one will be murdered, six will be killed in a road accident and 250 will die before their time because they smoke.”
Secretary of State for Health (1998)2
Smoking as a cause of death: In the UK smoking is one of the leading causes of death in people under 65 years old3. In 1998 the UK's Health Education Authority estimated that smoking causes 111 000 deaths per year, amounting to 17 per cent of all deaths4. The same year, the Secretary of State for Health stated a slightly worse figure of 120 000 deaths per year5.
“Despite decades of work by health campaigners, more than one billion people still smoke today. Smoking kills up to half of those who fail to quit puffing, reducing their lives by an average of 12 to 15 years. The World Health Organisation (WHO) says more than 5m people a year die early from the effects (direct or indirect) of tobacco. That exceeds the toll of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.”
The cost to the NHS: All taxpayers pay for the health costs of those who smoke.
"Britain's Population: Demographic Issues in Contemporary Society"
Stephen Jackson (1998)4
Passive smoking: Others who live with smokers, who drive in cars with them, and who otherwise share airspace with them, suffer side-effects as a result of inhaling the smoke3. A non-smoker who lives with smokers has an increased risk of coronary heart disease10.
The younger people start to smoke, the more they cost themselves and society. One scientist points out that the "vast majority" of smokers start doing so as children12. One of the key preventative measures according to a Public Health organisation in the UK is to encourage healthy behaviours in children, which in turns makes it more likely that as adults they also live healthily - "we need to focus much more on prevention and early intervention, helping people to help themselves and their communities to be as healthy as they can be and for as long as possible. [...] We all need to take responsibility for our own health and wellbeing, but for many it is more difficult than it should be. For example, healthy behaviours in childhood and the teenage years set patterns for later life yet we know that not all children have a realistic opportunity of a good start in life" (PHE 2013 13). Such effects are such a part of common sense that it is tempting to think that parents who smoke are engaging in a form of long-term child abuse. In other words: a prerequisite for responsible parenting is to give up smoking.
Advice to stop smoking is often given by doctors to pregnant women from the onset of pregnancy because there are biological risks to the foetus when a mother smokes. Avoiding smoking, and avoiding passive smoking, both help mother's protect their unborn babies and gives them the best chance at a healthy birth14.
“Smoking during pregnancy is associated with more miscarriages, vaginal bleeding, premature births and low birth-weight babies. [...] Even if you have smoked for many years, if you stop before you conceive your baby has the same chance of good health as a non-smoker's baby. [...] If you quit before month 4 of pregnancy you protect your baby from the worst effects of smoking. [...] Even quitting in month 9 [may help].”
The British Medical Journal in 2005 reported15 that:
If a mother smokes 20 or more cigarettes a day during late pregnancy, their child will have reduced IQ by an average of 6.2 points.
Smoking's "adverse effect on the central nervous system and brain may be a factor" which "may explain why smoking during pregnancy has also been linked to behavioural problems and increased risk of criminality in offspring"
The effect of smoking takes place across all income classes. It affects the children of professionals as much as the children of the unemployed: Money cannot make up for the loss accrued from smoke (and passive smoking) during pregnancy. It so happens that smoking is also correlated with low IQ, hence, having parents who smoke cause a double whammy of issues.
England has followed the example of Eire and other countries, and banned smoking in public enclosed spaces. It is now illegal to smoke indoors in any public place including pubs, places of work and work vehicles. The government cannot rightly ban smoking because it is not up to the government to force people to adopt good practices, merely to punish people for stepping on others' toes.
Some trashy tabloids ran keen campaigns against the bans, and some smokers have complained of being 'oppressed'. They are wrong. Passive smoking is dangerous and real. People are free to smoke, but, they are not free to force other people to smoke. Therefore banning smoking in public places enforces freedom, preventing smokers from infringing the rights of others not to smoke.
There has long been a bone of contention between smokers, who take frequent breaks outside, and non-smokers, who are more inclined to feel guilty (however misguided) over such breaks. This small-scale conflict highlights a greater debate over human free will. For those who take frequent smoke breaks do so in addition to any standardized workplace breaks, to which most non- smokers tend to stick. The latter view the former's extra breaks as frivolous, whereas smokers view them as normal. The view of the militant anti-smoker is that smokers have chosen to smoke, and therefore are skiving work. The view of smokers is that they 'have' to smoke. It seems those who have chosen the less responsible lifestyle choice are being rewarded with extra time off, therefore encouraging ill-health.
“France followed a European trend by making it illegal to smoke in offices. [...] To the outrage of some, several companies have decided to clock out staff as they leave the building for a smoke, and deduct the time from working hours.”
The measures that some French companies have taken - clocking people's smoking time against their wages - has the potential to officially take into account the time-management practices of smokers and non-smokers. If computer -game addicts were often seen sneaking off to the rest room for a quick game, then, that time too should be deducted. Such methods can be taken too far, but, if in the case of smoking we can discourage a public health issue through time-monitoring, it is probably a good idea, and it will also appease activist non-smokers.
Tobacco companies have received bad publicity recently after a series of exposés, resulting from their manipulation of scientific studies into the ill-effects of smoking. Some studies were paid for by the companies to reach doctored conclusions17, and others were suppressed. Not only this, but they have resisted attempts to regulate advertising aimed at children, and have continued to use bad practices abroad even when they are outlawed or regulated at home. In other words, they have been evading the law, intentionally leading people into the habit, and failing to inform users of the risks of their product. The World Health Organisation says that most users do not understand the risks. Multinational firms frequently evade the law in such ways, but the growing strength of political unions such as the EU help curb their behaviour [Crabtree 2006]. Many companies have been forced out of business for less, but the addictive nature of smoking means that this will not happen with tobacco firms.
“The numbers of smokers in China, India and other developing countries is continuing to grow, as addiction spreads faster than information. Hence the determination of almost everybody involved in global public health to escalate the war on smoking. Over 150 countries have already ratified the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which requires countries to take a range of anti-smoking measures. Last July negotiators agreed on international norms for banning smoking in public places.”
“Several industries have been caught out producing fake and heavily biased science reports, orchestrating so-called "grass-roots" movements whereby they cast doubt on medical science, producing endless reams of misleading public-relations material and manipulating news outlets with fake think-tanks. They have well-practised and efficient methods for manipulating the news and public opinion and the money and effort that goes into these channels of deception are great. They produce "manufactured doubt" using scientific-sounding organisations as fronts, to try and discredit the mountains of evidence that stand against them. They are expert at getting this 'fake news' on to broadcast media and in every success they cause harm, ill health and long-term problems for all.
The worst culprits in spreading mass-lies in this way are: (1) the tobacco and smoke industry19,20,21, (2) the fast-food and junk food industries22, (3) those who sell most nutritional supplements23 and (4) the petrol and oil industries24,25,19.The worst outlets for promulgating rubbish without checking sources are the sensationalist, downmarket and popularist news bodies.”
In the 1950s the smoking lobby created a range of innocent-sounding and scientific-sounding groups in order to discredit government information about the dangers of smoking. They produced scientific reports engineered by their own scientists, which serve to boost their own industries by deceiving the public. The disinformation campaign spanned many decades. The vested commercial interests of the smoking industry provide an incentive to manipulate the public's understanding of the risks in order to keep people smoking. They concocted invented studies, fabricated doubts on health science, creating fake consumer-concern groups and poured great quantities of cash into misleading marketing. A few senior executes eventually found themselves stood before USA's congress. Clive Bates, Public Health Consultant, states very bluntly:
“The chief executives of the world's major tobacco companies stood up in front of congress and [...] lied, knowing that they were lying [and] deliberate[ly] misled people.”
“... the tobacco industry previously poured huge sums into 'independent' research showing that the effects of smoking on health had been greatly exaggerated.”
“As a result of paperwork disclosed in US court cases, we now know that when the tobacco companies in the 1950s found themselves under pressure from the discovery of the link between smoking and cancer, they hired PR companies to create a network of pseudo-groups to massage public thinking on their behalf. Hill & Knowlton, who were then the biggest PR agency in America, duly created the Council for Tobacco Research and the Tobacco Institute as apparently independent organisations to produce research to defend their sales. [...]
A second PR agency, Burson-Marsteller, created the National Smokers Alliance as an AstroTurf group, to hold public meetings and hassle politicians, changing the tobacco story from a threat to health to a threat to freedom.”
Smoking is intrinsically linked with the untermensch, the lesser-educated, higher-crime rate classes of the population.
“Today only 15% of men in the highest professional classes smoke, but 42% of unskilled workers do. Despite punitive taxation - 20 cigarettes cost around £5.00, three-quarters of which is tax - 55% of single mothers on benefits smoke. The figure for homeless men is even higher; for hard drug users it is practically 100%. [...] The lower down they are on practically any pecking order - job prestige, income, education, background - the more likely are people to be fat and unfit, and to drink too much.”
The psychologists Davison & Neale pointed out in 1997 that smoking is more common amongst unskilled and manual workers, prevails among "less educated" individuals28, and is associated with poverty. Steven Jackson reported almost the same percentages as The Economist, in 1998:
“Approximately 15 per cent of professionals smoke in comparison to over 40 per cent of unskilled manual workers.”
"Britain's Population: Demographic Issues in Contemporary Society" by Stephen Jackson (1998)29
In the Armed Forces, 34% of Army regulars smoke in the medical corps, who represent the lowest rate in the Army30. One Army medical corps senior officer estimated that the smoking rate in the Army is about twice that of civilians, therefore being at 84%. Although the value is dropping, there remains an institutional acceptance and promotion of smoking within Army social life - it is also the UK's biggest employer.
Smoking is intertwined deeply with trash culture. If you smoke, you are more likely to drink. If you smoke or drink, you are also more likely to do drugs. Such was the conclusion of the 1999 publication from the Office for National Statistics entitled "Smoking, drinking and drug use among young teenagers in 1998". A key factor of trash culture is that it is self-promoting. Once trash habits become accepted, they spread themselves. This entire culture is itself a harmful disease.
Amongst young teenagers, "the likelihood of having ever used drugs is strongly related to smoking experience: 63% of regular smokers had used drugs, compared with only 1% of those who had never smoked". With drinking the statistics are also similar and cyclic: 44% of young teenagers who drink also get involved in drugs, compared with only 1% of children who don't drink. And importantly, in case it is doubted that all these factors propagate one another, "virtually no children who had never smoked or drunk had ever used drugs".
If you smoke, you are more likely to drink. If you smoke or drink, you are also more likely to do drugs. Smoking is statistically intertwined deeply with trash culture. Only 15% of men in the highest professional classes smoke, but 42% of unskilled workers do27. Smoking is higher amongst those who are already in trouble: single mothers smoke at 55%, most homeless do and practically 100% of drug addicts do. Smoking during late pregnancy reduces the IQ of babies by an average of 6.2 points31 and causes increased antisocial behaviour. Aside from the costs to all taxpayers, the costs to the nation in terms of NHS costs, indirect costs such as increase sick days from work and increased chance of disease, mean that national smoking rates have an effect on the economy as well as on national health.
Current edition: 2014 Jul 30
Last Modified: 2017 Jul 25
Second edition 2007 Jul 30
Originally published 2003 Apr 18
Parent page: The United Kingdom Suffers as a Result of Poor National Health: We All Need to Choose Healthier Lives
All #tags used on this page - click for more:
The Economist. Published by The Economist Group, Ltd. A weekly newspaper in magazine format, famed for its accuracy, wide scope and intelligent content. See vexen.co.uk/references.html#Economist for some commentary on this source..
The Guardian. UK newspaper. See Which are the Best and Worst Newspapers in the UK?. Respectable and generally well researched UK broadsheet newspaper..
BBC. The British Broadcasting Corporation.
(2014) Burning Desire: The Seduction of Smoking. A two-part television documentary first shown on 2014 May 29 featuring the veteran journalist and investigator, Peter Taylor. www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b045qf9q.
British Heart Foundation
(2012) Women and Heart Disease. Leaflet. Published by the British Heart Foundation, London, UK. There is no year of publication stated in the booklet, but its copyright notice states 2012.
Carroll, Robert Todd. (1945-2016). Taught philosophy at Sacramento City College from 1977 until retirement in 2007. Created The Skeptic's Dictionary in 1994.
(2011) Unnatural Acts: Critical Thinking, Skepticism, and Science Exposed!. E-book. Amazon Kindle digital edition. Published by the James Randi Educational Foundation.
(2006) "Multinational Corporations Versus Democracy: The Fight Between Commercialism and Nation States" (2006). Accessed 2017 Aug 01.
(2009) "The Worst of the Modern Mass Media" (2009). Accessed 2017 Aug 01.
Davison & Neale
(1997) Abnormal Psychology. Hardback book. 7th edition. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Amazon link points to a newer edition than the one I've used here.
(1998) Britain's Population: Demographic Issues in Contemporary Society. Published by Routledge.
Peters, Michael Dr
(2011) Family Doctor Home Advisor. Hardback book. 4th edition. Published by Dorling Kindersley Limited, London, UK. Published for the British Medical Association.
Public Health England (PHE)
(2013) Our priorities for 2013/14. Booklet published in 2013 April. PHE are the government body responsible for national health and wellbeing. PHE publication gateway number 2013007. www.gov.uk/phe.
Secretary of State for Health
(1998) Our Healthier Nation: A Contract for Health. Government consultation paper presented to Parliament (CM3852).