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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.