BRUNEIANS should be proud of the fact that they smoke the least of all the 182 countries to feature in the Tobacco Atlas list with only 9.676 cigarettes consumed per person per year.
Andorra tops the table with an estimated 6,398 cigarettes consumed per person per year. Next up is another tiny nation in Europe, Luxembourg.
Belarus, the country that consumes the most alcohol per capita, comes third, followed by Macedonia and Albania. Belgium, Czech Republic, Jordan, Russia and Syria complete the top 10.
However, smoking is still a major cause of worry in Brunei.
Minister of Health, Dato Paduka Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Jaafar, in his message for World No Tobacco Day on May 31 said smoking is a major risk factor for non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in the Sultanate.
The results of the 2016 Surveillance (STEPS) Population Survey of NCDs showed that 20 per cent, or about 60,000 Bruneians aged 18-69, are smokers.
“Among smokers, as much as 30 per cent is from the productive age group that is between 18 and 44. If most of them have already begun, or are showing signs of cardiovascular diseases, it will have socio-economic implications for the in terms of costs such as government treatment expenses, loss of productivity and loss of income at work etc. This can adversely affect the development of the country in the long run,” the minister noted.
Tobacco Atlas, a platform that tracks the impact of tobacco on economies, said the number of cigarettes smoked worldwide is finally decreasing. Many of the tobacco industry’s largest markets are highly populous countries across Asia and the fastest growth is largely in Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean.
About 5.7 trillion cigarettes were smoked worldwide in 2016. Although overall consumption has declined slightly over the past few years, the future path of global tobacco control is still uncertain.
Despite the rhetorical commitment of some in the tobacco industry towards a smoke-free world, all major tobacco companies continue to aggressively advertise cigarettes and vigorously fight tobacco control efforts around the world.
The significant reductions in smoking rates in the United Kingdom, Australia, Brazil and other countries that have implemented the most advanced tobacco control laws globally are almost entirely offset by the increasing consumption in many countries with weaker tobacco control regulations.
Cigarette consumption is predicted to increase in many low-and medium-HDI (Human Development Index) countries due to dynamic economic development and continued population growth. For example, the number of tobacco smokers is set to increase by 24 million in Indonesia and by seven million in Nigeria from 2015 to 2025.
China, whose people smoke more than 40 per cent of all cigarettes globally, remains a challenge. Although cigarette use in China has begun to decline, half of Chinese adult males continue to smoke cigarettes. Without appropriate prevention policies, the world will lose a billion lives this century due to tobacco smoking, Tobacco Atlas noted.