Russia Fourth in World For Number of Smokers

MOSCOW, January 8 (RIA Novosti) ­ Russia is among the world’s heaviest smoking countries, outranked only by China, India and Indonesia, according to a new report out Wednesday.

About 39 million of 143 million Russians smoked as of 2012, the latest year covered by a global group of researchers for a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Of these, 28 million are men and 11 million are women. The overall figure was 38 million in 1980, when the population was at 138 million.

In China, some 280 million smoked as of 2012 in a population of 1.35 billion.

Just over half of Russian men smoke every day, or 52 percent, the sixth highest proportion in the world in a list topped by Timor-Leste with 61 percent.

However, only about 15 percent of Russian women smoke, according to the study.

Russia consumed 340 billion cigarettes in 2012, equivalent to 118 packets of 20 for every man, woman and child in the country. This was second only to China, with 2.3 trillion.

Russia has moved to curb the habit with new legislation to ban smoking in public places, including schools, hospitals, government buildings and public transport. Fines of up to 3,000 rubles ($94) were introduced in November and the ban will be extended to bars and restaurants in June.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev cited expert data last April that the new legislation could save 200,000 lives a year.

The global number of smokers was estimated in the study at almost 1 billion and the global consumption of cigarettes at 6 trillion.

Despite public health campaigns in many countries, there has been little change in the total number of smokers since 1980. The study concluded that a sharp decrease in many Western countries had been offset by a corresponding increase in the developing world due to population growth.

The United States, with a population of 316 million, was fifth for the number of smokers, with 38 million, and fourth for cigarette consumption, at 310 billion.