1 Billion Smokers Light Up Across the Globe

But the overall smoking rate has decreased dramatically since 1980

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Maxim Shemetov/Reuters

Students smoke in a street in Moscow October 16, 2012. Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev launched a crackdown on smoking on Tuesday with a bill to ban tobacco advertising and raise taxes on cigarettes in the world's second largest tobacco market after China.

Though anti-smoking campaigns have seen significant successes in many countries, including the United States, the sheer number of tobacco smokers worldwide has actually increased, according to a new study from the University of Washington.

Between 1980 and 2012, the rate of smoking globally decreased from 26% to 18.7%, but the total number of smokers actually increased to nearly 1 billion, the study says. The increase in the number of smokers worldwide is due to population growth—overall, fewer people smoke today (31% of men, for example) than smoked in 1980 (41% of men). The rate of smoking in the U.S. has plummeted from 42% in 1980 to 18% in 2012, and the total number of smokers has fallen over the same period from 52 million to 38 million. But in some large countries, including Indonesia and China, the number of smokers is increasing.

Among all countries, the Caribbean islands of Antigua and Barbuda have the lowest prevalence of smoking, at 5%, the BBC reports. East Timor has the highest rate of smoking at a whopping 61%.

[The Seattle Times]