Asia's smoking addiction

Breaking News August 31, 2017 09:01

Asia News Network

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Male smoking rate is high in Asian countries, with Indonesian men ranked the world's top smokers as 76% of them smoke.

According to the WHO estimates tobacco kills around 6 million people annually around the globe causing a damage of trillions of dollars to the world economy. Countries across Asia project gloomy trends when it comes to the prevalence of smoking amongst various demographics.  The Asian continent is home to more than 30 per cent of world smokers with more than 80 per cent of these smokers coming from lower income groups.

With feeble commitments to curb the smoking trends, Indonesia has the highest male smoking percentage in Asia at 76 per cent. The annual cost of treating the tobacco related diseases in the country is estimated to be 0.29% of the country's GDP.

Laos has higher smoking rate compared to other adjacent countries. 57% of its male population is addicted to tobacco beginning as early as 13- 15 years of age. In South Korea male smoking rate is 50%, contributing to country's 21.4 per cent deaths caused by tobacco annually. 

Realising the toll of rising smoking cases in the country, China signed the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control much earlier than other countries to reduce the prevalence of smoking. However it is still on the higher side when it comes to puffing by Chinese men.


In Vietnam 47% of men smoke and 22 per cent of men die due to tobacco related diseases. Of late there has been some reduction seen in the consumption of hand-rolled cigarettes, however the reduction is not as high as expected.


Although Cambodia banned the use of smoking in public places and work places still the male smoking percentage is 44%. Malaysia has been a long term signatory to the  WHO's Framework Convention on Tobaco Control and in lieu of that it has banned smoking in public places. However the male smoking percentage in the country is still 43%. 


Philippines, the second most populous country in South-east Asia, has the male smoking percentage equal to Malaysia. Recently the president signed an executive order banning smoking both indoors and outdoors. The order covers ban on advertisements and promotion of smoking making it the most stringent anti- tobacco law in the region. Thailand has lower male smoking percentage than other countries at 41%. Tobacco Products Control Act (2017) is the most recent legislation governing tobacco control in the country.


With 34% of male smoking rate prevalent in the country smoking kills almost 15 thousand people in Japan every year. Myanmar has been a soft market for tobacco industry after its government began the reforms. The country has seen marked rise in the smoking percentage. With male smoking percentage at 32% the sophisticated strategies of Big Tobacco industry is estimated to increase the tobacco consumption in the country.

Singapore introduced smoking prohibition in 1970. With the effective implementation of the ban, male smoking percentage is 28%. Male smoking percentage in Pakistan and Bangladesh is 42% and 40% respectively compared to India which is at 20%.  Nepal and Sri Lanka have male smoking percentage of 37% and 28% respectively.

The considerable profit that the countries earn from tobacco industries has deterred them from taking stringent steps towards curbing the tobacco epidemic.

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