Study: World Has Nearly 1 Billion New Smokers

China and Indonesia lead the international pack of countries with the most new smokers.

A man smokes a cigarette on a street in Shanghai, China, on January 8, 2014.
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Though the percentage of smokers worldwide has declined, the actual number of smokers has increased, said a study released Wednesday by the University of Washington.

The study, which looked at smokers in 187 different countries from 1980 to 2012, attributed the increase of people smoking to overall population growth.

But the actual rate of smoking for men and women has shrunk dramatically over the last thirty years, evidenced with a 42 percent decrease for women and a 25 percent decrease for men. Canada, Iceland, Mexico and Norway have done the best job in curbing the tobacco industry, diminishing the rate of smoking by more than 50 percent.

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In the U.S., the smoking rate has dropped from 42 percent to 18 percent.

"Despite the tremendous progress made on tobacco control, much more remains to be done," Dr. Christopher Murray, University of Washington professor of global health and director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, said in the study. "We have the legal means to support tobacco control. Where we see progress being made we need to look for ways to accelerate that progress. Where we see stagnation, we need to find out what's going wrong."

Large countries like China and Indonesia have actually encountered an influx of smokers.

In fact the World Health Organization states "about one in three cigarettes smoked in the world is in China."

And The New York Times found China gained nearly 100 million smokers betwee 1980 and 2012.

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China has tried to combat the ever growing problem with health ministry guidelines that banned smoking in hotels and restaurants, CNN reported. But the bans aren't "strictly enforced" China's state-run news agency, Xinhua, told CNN.

Some experts say if China continues to turn a blind eye to the smoking habits of its people, the consequences will be deadly.

"Tobacco control is particularly urgent in countries where the number of smokers is increasing," said Alan Lopez, a professor at the University of Melbourne. "Because we know that half of all smokers will eventually be killed by tobacco, greater numbers of smokers will mean a massive increase in premature deaths in our lifetime."

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