Number of smokers has reached all-time high of 1.1 billion, study finds

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Smoking killed almost 8 million people in 2019 and the number of smokers rose as the habit was picked up by young people around the world, according to new research.

A study published in the Lancet on Thursday said efforts to curb the habit had been outstripped by population growth with 150 million more people smoking in the nine years from 1990, reaching an all-time high of 1.1 billion.

The study’s authors said governments need to focus on reducing the uptake of smoking among young people, as 89% of new smokers were addicted by the age of 25 but beyond that age were unlikely to start.

“Young people are particularly vulnerable to addiction, and with high rates of cessation remaining elusive worldwide, the tobacco epidemic will continue for years to come unless countries can dramatically reduce the number of new smokers starting each year,” said the study’s lead author Marissa Reitsma, a researcher at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

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