Offshoring Lung Cancer?

The Wall Street Journal reports on a new World Health Organization study about cigarette smoking around the world. The Journal‘s piece includes data from Euromonitor International about the number of cigarettes sold worldwide by various manufacturers.

Here are the numbers of cigarettes sold (in billions) in 2006 by Philip Morris:

U.S./Canada: 184
Asia Pacific: 197
Eastern Europe: 229
Western Europe: 242

The decline in U.S. smoking rates is pretty remarkable, both in terms of total percentages (42.4 percent of Americans smoked in 1965, versus 20.8 percent in 2006) and the number of cigarettes smoked by people who do smoke (from 19.8 per day in 1974 to 13.9 in 2006). Do you think prices, especially taxes, have had anything to do with that?

With continuing strong demand for cigarettes around the world, especially in poor countries, the W.H.O., in conjunction with Michael Bloomberg‘s personal foundation, is proposing a huge global anti-smoking project. The W.H.O.’s report on the subject calls for “raising cigarette taxes, banning smoking in public places, enforcing laws against giving or advertising tobacco to children, monitoring tobacco use, warning people about the dangers and offering free or inexpensive help to smokers trying to quit.”

Bloomberg’s foundation contributed $2 million to the report. While a great deal has been made of Mitt Romney and Hillary Clinton spending their own money on political campaigns, I have heard little talk (and none of it negative) about Bloomberg’s use of personal money for such causes. It is hard to argue against anti-smoking measures, of course — unless you are Philip Morris.

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  1. danb says:

    “It is hard to argue against anti-smoking measures, of course – unless you are Philip Morris.”

    I like to smoke, I don’t care that it’s bad for me… I like to drink, I don’t care that it’s bad for me… I like to eat really rich and delicious food, I don’t care that it’s bad for me.

    Aren’t there bigger problems in the world today than a little bit of lung cancer?

    The life expectancy of smokers is only a handful of years less than non-smokers… I just don’t think it’s the huge deal everyone wants it to be… it’s hysteria… just like the war on terror and the war on drugs… an overreaction to something that’s hardly even a problem… lets have wars on sharks and lightning and our vendetta against stupid crap that hardly matters will be nearly complete.

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  2. David says:

    I agree with danb. The reaction to the health problems associated with smoking is hysteria. Smoking should be banned in public places, but not for health reasons. It should be banned because it smells bad. I hate going to bars and coming out stinking.

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  3. Ben says:

    “Aren’t there bigger problems in the world today than a little bit of lung cancer?”

    Sure, but they are few and far between. As a smoker, I’m sure you are aware that lung cancer kills vastly more people each year than any other type of cancer-more than breast and colon cancers (#2 and 3) in women and more than prostate, colon, and pancreas cancers (#2, 3, and 4) in men. It is the source of almost a third of cancer deaths. Okay, big deal.

    *Over a quarter of lung cancer cases in people who don’t smoke are estimated to be caused by second-hand smoke.* Almost 3000 people in the US alone every year. Who don’t smoke. Just minding their business.

    THIS is why this is so important. THIS is why we need a significant paradigm shift in public health practices. To be so blase about it and to have such blatant disregard about a clear problem in this country-all so you can smoke a cig every once in a while-is absolutely ridiculous. Stick with the gum, dude.

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  4. danb says:

    I forgot my favorite anecdote…

    Where I used to work, the smokers would all go outside and smoke over by the loading dock.. someone got all self righteous and put up a no smoking sign… meanwhile, huge diesel trucks sit there idling, spewing ACTUAL poison into the air…

    Try sitting in a closed garage with 100 chain smokers … then do it with a single running vehicle… see which scenario kills you quicker… then talk to me about the dangers of smoking vs. everything else in the world there is to be irrationally scared of.

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  5. Kevin says:

    Smokers die sooner and are less of a burden on society! Thanks for doing your part, guys.

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  6. danb says:

    “Almost 3000 people in the US alone every year. Who don’t smoke. Just minding their business.”

    20% of americans smoke… and less than .001% of people allegedly die from “second hand smoke”… sounds like an epidemic to me… even if we except that second hand smoke is the primary contributing factor in those deaths… lets get a little perspective:

    * 5% to 20% of the population gets the flu;
    * more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu complications, and;
    * about 36,000 people die from flu.

    so… 13 times the number of people die from the flu as die from smoking… where are all the “no sick people” signs? why isn’t there a world wide campaign “educating” people on the dangers of walking around in public with the flu? you see where I am going here?

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  7. danb says:

    I got those flu numbers from here:

    http://www.cdc.gov/flu/keyfacts.htm

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  8. danb says:

    sorry for all the spam… I’ll slow down..

    I was incorrect in my post about the flu… I said:

    “13 times the number of people die from the flu as die from smoking”

    what I meant was:

    “13 times the number of people die from the flu as die from second hand smoke”

    many more people die from actual smoking… obviously… but smoking is a choice… getting the flu is not… anyway.. I think most people understand what I was getting at.

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