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Smoking and alcohol consumption in OECD countries – country breakdown

Smoking and alcohol consumption in OECD countries – country breakdown

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Both smoking and alcohol consumption have been linked to several deadly diseases include coronary heart disease, ischemic heart disease, strokes, diabetes, several cancers, liver diseases etc. Smoking is directly associated with lung diseases such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Smoking and alcohol exposure among pregnant mothers is associated with severe health consequences for the baby. Reports have shown that smoking is responsible for the most number of healthy life years lost in 15 OECD countries. It ranks second biggest cause of disability and diseased years in 16 OECD countries. At least seven million people worldwide die of tobacco smoking and of these 890,000 die of exposure to second hand smoke.

Smoking statistics

The latest OECD countries report “Health At a Glance 2017” shows that 14 percent of women and 23 percent of men – making up of a little over 18 percent adults smoking in these countries. Highest number of smokers can be found in countries such as Greece, Hungary and Turkey and Indonesia with over a quarter of the population smoking.

Numbers of smokers are least in Mexico and Brazil making up for 10 percent of the population. Highest rates of female smokers are seen in Austria, Greece and Hungary, where over one in five women smoke. Korea, Mexico, China, India and Indonesia have less than 5 percent women smokers.

Among males, almost 40 percent of the population smoke in countries like Turkey, China, Indonesia and Russian Federation. Men smoke least in Iceland and Brazil with less than one in 10 smokers. Gender gap between males and females is least in Denmark and Iceland.

Biggest gaps between number of women and men smokers is seen in Indonesia at 73 points, China at 46 points and the Russian Federation at 34 points.

The report also looked at daily smoking rates in the different countries. In 2015, an average of 18 percent of adults smoked regularly. There was a 28 percent reduction in daily smoking rates since 2000. This from in the fifteen years has been seen maximally in Denmark, Iceland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Brazil, India, Lithuania and the Russian Federation. In these countries the reduction has been over 10 percent points.

Biggest falls in number of daily smokers was seen in Greece, Hungary, Turkey and Indonesia. Least change in the daily smoking rates was seen in Mexico and Brazil.

Government health policies have targeted and focused on measures to reduce and discourage tobacco and alcohol consumption in these countries. Tobacco advertising bans for example have been in place since 2014 in 29 countries. Taxation on tobacco containing products have been in place in 26 countries.

All OECD member countries now have graphic warnings displayed on tobacco product labels to discourage smoking and tobacco consumption. May 31st each year is commemorated as “World No Tobacco Day” to reinforce the no-tobacco messages.

Alcohol consumption statistics

Alcohol use has been associated with several diseases including heart disease, liver damage and several cancers. It leads to death and disease among the working age group of populations. “Health at a glance 2017” report says that alcohol features among the top ten causes of disease and disability that leads to healthy life years lost in 32 of the OECD countries. These countries report higher than global average consumption of alcohol.

Alcohol has caused 2.3 million deaths in 2015 says the report. These are deaths due to heart disease, liver damage, cancers etc. but the causative factor behind them remains alcohol consumption. Heavy drinking has been seen in 20 percent of the population leading to loss of jobs and productivity and wages apart from health damage.

The report shows that the number of litres of alcohol consumed per capita has come down from 9.5 litres to 9 litres since 2000. This is pure alcohol and equivalent to 96 bottles of wine. Consumption of alcohol has significantly increased instead of reducing in 13 OECD countries.

Some of the countries where trends have shown rise in alcohol consumption include China, India, Lithuania and South Africa. The rise is least (0.1 to 1 litres per capita annually) in countries such as Canada, Chile, Israel, Korea, Mexico, Norway, Slovenia, Sweden, United States and South Africa.

The rise is steeper in Belgium, Iceland, Latvia, Poland, China, India and Lithuania with up to 5.3 litres rise since 2000. Biggest reduction of alcohol consumption has been seen in Denmark, Ireland, Italy and the Netherlands at over 2 litres per capita per year.

The report assessed regular binge drinking among the population living in the OECD countries. They noted that 12 percent women and 30 percent men indulge in binge drinking bouts on a regular basis (at least once monthly).

Men are more prone to binge drinking than women, The gap between genders is lowest in Spain and Greece while it is the widest in Estonia, Finland and Latvia. Average rates of binge drinking are around 8 percent (lowest) in Hungary and highest in Denmark at 37 percent.

Government health policies are in place to check for excess alcohol use. This includes taxations, public education and awareness programs,  ban of alcoholic beverage advertising, law enforcements etc.

Smoking and alcohol consumption among children of OECD countries

The “Health at a glance” report 2017 shows rise in adolescent smoking and drinking trends in the OECD countries. Starting smoking and alcohol use early, leads to severe health consequences later in life, including respiratory problems, heart disease, liver disease, cancers etc. Growth and development is also severely impaired. Use of tobacco and alcohol also paves way to trying other illegal substances and indulging in risky behaviors.

Health Behavior in School-aged Children (HBSC) surveys are a series of surveys among adolescents to study smoking and drinking behaviors. Results reveal that over 15 percent of teenagers over the age of 15 years smoke at least once a week in several countries such as France, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, and the Slovak Republic. Smoking rates are lower among this age group in Iceland and Norway.

Adolescent smokers are around 12 percent of all adolescents in the OECD countries. Boys smoke more than girls in many countries but girls are more in numbers of smokers in countries such as Australia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, the Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom. There is a wide gap between boys and girls with boys leading in Israel, Lithuania and the Russian Federation.

Adolescent alcohol consumers are around 30 percent in all the OECD countries. One in three 15 year old has been drunk at least twice in countries such as Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, Slovenia and the United Kingdom and Lithuania. Iceland, Israel, Luxembourg, Switzerland and the Russian Federation show lower number of drinkers among the adolescents.

On an average, 23.5 percent boys and 21.2 percent girls consume alcohol. The gender gap is widest in countries such as Austria, Hungary, Israel, as well as Lithuania and the Russian Federation with boys consuming more alcohol than girls. Canada, Sweden and the United Kingdom girls are more frequently drunk than boys.

The report emphasizes on more stringent laws and regulations to prevent both smoking and drinking among the youth.

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