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International Notes Recent Trends in Tobacco Consumption -- Canada and Other Countries

Canada ranks fourth among all nations and leads the major industrialized nations in per capita consumption of manufactured cigarettes--the dominant but not the only form of tobacco consumed worldwide (Table 1). In Norway, for example, fine-cut tobacco for roll-your-own cigarettes accounts for two-thirds of the total cigarette market, and total per capita cigarette consumption is about 1,660 cigarettes per year (1). Relative to other industrialized nations, Canada also has a high proportion of fine-cut tobacco sales, which accounted for about 10% of total cigarette consumption in 1983 (2). In contrast, fine-cut sales accounted for only 0.7% of cigarette consumption in the United States in 1980 (3). From 1974 to 1982, per capita total tobacco consumption, including cigarettes, fine-cut tobacco, cigars, pipe tobacco, chewing tobacco, and snuff, declined at an annual rate of 1.3% in Canada; it was much lower in Finland in 1974 and declined until 1982 at an annual rate of 2.3%--almost twice Canada's rate of decline. In 1976, consumption fell by 15% in Finland following a 60% increase in the price of tobacco products.

While per capita tobacco consumption declined slightly in Canada from 1974 to 1982, total consumption actually increased, but not as rapidly as population growth. In Finland, both per capita and total tobacco consumption decreased during this period. Finland has a population of 5 million, about one-fifth that of Canada; however, in 1982, total tobacco consumption in Finland was only one-tenth that of Canada.

Preliminary data for 1983 show that Canadian tobacco consumption decreased substantially. For 12 months in 1981-1982, the price of tobacco products in Canada increased faster than the rate of inflation, likely accounting in large measure for decreased consumption. Reported in Chronic Diseases in Canada (1984;4:52-3) by N Collishaw, L Mulligan, Bureau of Tobacco Control and Biometrics, Laboratory Centre for Disease Control, Canada; Behavioral Epidemiology and Evaluation Br, Div of Health Education, Center for Health Promotion and Education, CDC.

Editorial Note

Editorial Note: In the United States, per capita cigarette consumption for individuals 18 years of age or older has decreased at an annual rate of 0.6% from 1963 to 1978 (a reduction from 4,336 to 3,965 cigarettes per person) (4), even less than the rate of decline reported for Canada. In addition, the proportion of smokers has declined at an annual rate of 1.6% from 1965 to 1980 (42% to 33%) (5). The relatively high rate of decline in the percentage of smokers, compared with that in per capita cigarette consumption, indicates that the average number of cigarettes consumed per smoker has increased (5). The increase in the number of cigarettes consumed per smoker has averaged approximately 1% per year. Possible explanations for this include: (1) a supposedly higher rate of cessation among lighter cigarette smokers; (2) an increase in cigarette smoking frequency among those who continue to smoke; and (3) an increased frequency of smoking among new entrants into the population of cigarette smokers (4).

The decline in the percentage of persons in the United States who smoke has been at least partially offset by an increase in the percentage who use "smokeless" tobacco. The use of smokeless tobacco products (including snuff and various forms of chewing tobacco) has increased at an annual rate of approximately 11% per year since 1974 (6). An estimated 22 million individuals use smokeless tobacco, with the average user between the ages of 18 years and 30 years. Recent surveys suggest that the prevalence of smokeless tobacco use among young males ranges between 7% and 25%. Increased use of these products may relate to a decrease in the social acceptance of smoking and to national advertising that suggests smokeless products as an alternative to smoking. Use of smokeless tobacco products, however, has been linked to oral and pharyngeal cancer, tooth loss, and gum disease (7-9).

Tobacco use is a significant public health problem in the United States and many other countries. In the United States, smoking is responsible for an excess of 350,000 premature deaths annually and is the major single cause of cancer mortality, contributing to over 130,000 cancer deaths in 1983 (10).

References

  1. Bjartveit K. Legislation and political activity. Presented at the Fifth World Conference on Smoking and Health, Winnipeg. July 1983.

  2. Production and disposition of tobacco products. Statistics Canada. Catalogue No. 32-042. Ottawa, 1983.

  3. Maxwell JC. The Maxwell fact book; a tobacco report. New York: Lahman Brothers, Kuhn Loeb, 1981.

  4. U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. Smoking and health: a report of the Surgeon General. Rockville, Maryland: U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, Public Health Service, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, Office on Smoking and Health, 1979; DHEW publication no. (PHS) 79-50066.

  5. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The health consequences of smoking: cardiovascular disease: a report of the Surgeon General. Rockville, Maryland: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, Office on Smoking and Health, 1983; DHHS publication no. (PHS) 84-50204.

  6. Maxwell JC Jr. Smokeless keeps growing; cigars keep declining. Tobacco International. July 1983;90-1.

  7. Christen AG, Swanson BZ, Glover ED, Henderson EH. The folklore and social history of snuffing, sneezing, dipping, and chewing. JADA 1982;105:821-9.

  8. Winn DM, Blot WJ, Shy CM, Pickle LW, Toledo A, Fraumeni JF Jr. Snuff dipping and oral cancer among women in the southern United States. N Engl J Med 1981;304:745-9.

  9. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The health consequences of smoking: cancer: a report of the Surgeon General. Rockville, Maryland: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, Office on Smoking and Health, 1982; DHHS publication no.(PHS) 82-50179.

  10. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The health consequences of smoking: chronic obstructive lung disease: a report of the Surgeon General. Rockville, Maryland: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, Office on Smoking and Health, 1984; DHHS publication no. (PHS) 84-50205.

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