[Smoking in developing countries: a health risk and a factor in poverty]

Bull Acad Natl Med. 2011 Jun;195(6):1255-65; discussion 1265-8.
[Article in French]


Smoking is the leading preventable cause of death worldwide. In 2000, smoking-related deaths (approximately 5 million) were evenly divided between industrialized and developing countries, whereas by 2030 it is expected that some 70-80% of the predicted 8-10 million smoking-related deaths will occur in developing countries. This heavy health burden is compounded by the economic burden of smoking at both the individual and national levels. Smoking aggravates poverty for both smokers and their families, diverting meager financial resources away from essentials such as food, education and healthcare. Women and children are the first victims. And, as tobacco consumption shifts increasingly from rich countries to poor countries, smoking represents a further obstacle to development, notably by increasing national healthcare costs and absorbing valuable arable land for tobacco cultivation. The tobacco industry is exploiting markets in developing countries through price cuts, smuggling, widespread advertising, and promotion of positive images of smokers. As in other countries, prevention campaigns must encourage young people not to start the habit, help current users to quit, and protect non-smokers from second-hand smoke. Developing countries have a special incentive to build on the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), the first international public health treaty signed under the auspices of WHO, adopted in 2003 and ratified by over 170 countries. This treaty not only plays a major role in health policy, but also constitutes a powerful instrument for economic development and resistance to manipulation by the tobacco industry

MeSH terms

  • Developing Countries / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Poverty*
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / epidemiology*
  • Smoking Prevention