Changing Practice: Addressing Smoking In The Asia-Pacific

New research has revealed that the number of people dying from smoking-related lung cancer over the next two decades is expected to double in the Asia-Pacific region if current smoking habits remain unchanged.

“If people in developing countries in the Asia-Pacific region continue to smoke at the current rate, twice the amount of lung cancer deaths due to smoking will occur in the next two decades. The benefits of quitting are enormous and smoking cessation urgently needs to be embraced by governments in the region.” said Dr Alexandra Martiniuk, Senior Research Fellow at The George Institute for Global Health.

Smoking kills around five million people across the world ever year. While many developed countries are reaping the benefits of smoking cessation initiatives, the majority of smokers now live in lower and middle-income countries. One-third of the world’s 1.3 billion smokers now live in the Asia-Pacific region where uptake of smoking is still high.

These countries predominately have underdeveloped health care systems compounding problems of late diagnosis and access to care. In Australia and the US survival rates are up to 80% for lung cancer if detected early. This compares to a paltry 9% in the Asia-Pacific region.

“The key recommendation for the region is that governments sign up and follow through with the ‘Framework Convention on Tobacco Control’ guidelines. They need also to legislate to curb sales to minors, prevent indoor smoking and regulate tobacco advertising. This has proven to be hugely successful in other developing countries – and is an important first step for countries aiming to curb the smoking epidemic,” concluded Dr Martiniuk.