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New Global Survey Points to Key Issues, Needs and Gaps in Fight to End Smoking

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The Foundation for a Smoke-Free World released findings today from a global survey to better understand smokers, their experiences, and challenges they face when they try to quit smoking. The survey also highlights their awareness regarding the harm caused by smoking and how their perceptions of cigarettes, alternative products, and nicotine influence their motivation to move away from smoking. The data will shape the development of research to determine the best solutions to accelerate the end of smoking across diverse cultures and economic conditions.

This press release features multimedia. View the full release here: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20180319005647/en/

Figure 1: Which of the following situations, if any, apply to you? (% - Top Three Answers per Countr ...

Figure 1: Which of the following situations, if any, apply to you? (% - Top Three Answers per Country) (Graphic: Business Wire)

The 2018 State of Smoking Survey included 17,421 current smokers, ex-smokers, and non-smokers from 13 countries: Brazil, France, Greece, India, Israel, Japan, Lebanon, Malawi, New Zealand, Russia, South Africa, United Kingdom, United States. In parallel, a series of qualitative focus groups were carried out in seven countries (France, Greece, India, New Zealand, South Africa, United Kingdom, United States) to give additional context to the quantitative results. The survey was conducted by Kantar Public, an integrated consulting and research agency, which was engaged by the Foundation.

The primary findings are:

1. Smoking isn’t an isolated habit. Smokers consider it deeply integrated with their basic pleasures of life, such as eating, drinking, and socializing. Currently implemented cessation methods fail to take these into account, resulting in continued smoking.

2. Smokers know that smoking is harmful to their health, and many consider themselves in poorer health than non-smokers, yet they do not actively engage with their healthcare providers or discuss effective cessation or reduced-harm solutions with them. The healthcare system needs to better engage with smokers, and medical providers need more effective tools to help smokers quit.

3. There is confusion among smokers about the relative harms of smoking and less harmful alternatives. While people “smoke for the nicotine, but die from the tar,” there is still considerable misperception about the risks of nicotine. This impacts their motivation to quit or try reduced risk alternative products.

“I hope this survey will jolt many of the world’s one billion smokers into action to stop smoking, spark a meaningful discussion on the deeply complex reasons so many people continue to smoke, and make clear the urgent need to develop more effective communications and interventions to help smokers quit or substantially reduce their risks,” said Dr. Derek Yach, President of the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World. “By better understanding key drivers behind why people start smoking, barriers to quitting, and motivations to stop, we can help reduce the negative health consequences for many who are trapped in the cycle of addiction to combustible tobacco products.”

Specific findings from the global survey include:

  • Smoking is closely associated with daily rituals and routines like waking up, meal time, coffee/tea breaks, and socializing. In some countries (such as Brazil, Greece, and Lebanon), cigarettes are often smoked with coffee or tea, and in many others, cigarettes are commonly smoked after meals. (See figure 1)
  • In most countries, there was a significant desire to quit smoking. (See figure 2)
  • Most smokers polled recognize that smoking is harmful to their health and self-report as being less healthy than non-smokers, yet they visit their healthcare providers less frequently than non-smokers. (See figures 3 and 4)
  • The main driver that motivates smokers to quit or consider quitting is mainly their concern about their personal health. (See figure 5)
  • Although a large majority of smokers surveyed tried quitting without assistance, those that sought assistance often switched to nicotine-replacement therapy and prescription medicines first. In some countries (i.e., France, Greece, Japan, Lebanon, New Zealand, Russia, UK, US), smokers reported using e-cigarettes and other nicotine replacement devices to cut down or quit smoking cigarettes. (See figure 6)

Further findings from this study are available at: https://www.smokefreeworld.org/sites/default/files/uploads/derek-yach-press-conference-presentation.pdf. High resolution images of the graphics are available at: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/0bw9ckaac0h7cu9/AAB1ihaAu9Ilr_aFdaxZq60ia?dl=0.

“The data demonstrates that by better understanding the unique experiences and struggles of the individual smoker, we can better support each individual’s quit journey,” said Dr. Yach. “In this age of personalized medicine, it is only logical that we should stop treating the world’s smokers as one homogeneous group and start developing and embracing a wide range of solutions that allow individual smokers to select the method that works best for his or her situation and, more importantly, reduce the harm, disease, and death that is caused by smoking.”

About the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World

The Foundation is an independent, private foundation formed and operated free from the control or influence of any third party.  Philip Morris International, S.A. has provided the initial funding to the Foundation.  The Foundation makes grants and supports medical, agricultural and scientific research to end smoking and its health effects, and to address the impact of reduced world-wide demand for tobacco.

Contact information

Feinstein Kean Healthcare
Lynn Blenkhorn, 617-761-6766
Lynn.Blenkhorn@fkhealth.com

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