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Washington (AFP) – More people smoke worldwide today than in 1980, as population growth surges and cigarettes gain popularity in countries such as China, India and Russia, researchers said Tuesday.

For instance, China boasted nearly 100 million more smokers in 2012 than it had three decades ago, even though its smoking rate fell from 30 to 24 percent in that span, said the findings in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The rise in the number of smokers comes despite overall declines in the smoking rate in recent decades, as many people have realized the health dangers of tobacco, said the report.

The data was published as part of a series of tobacco-related articles to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the first U.S. Surgeon General’s report on the risks of smoking.

“Since we know that half of all smokers will eventually be killed by tobacco, greater numbers of smokers will mean a massive increase in premature deaths in our lifetime,” said co-author Alan Lopez of the University of Melbourne.

The study, led by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, measured data from 187 countries.

It found that the global smoking rate among men was 41 percent in 1980, but has since declined to an average of 31 percent.

Among women, the estimated prevalence of daily tobacco smoking was 10.6 percent in 1980, and by 2012 that had fallen to 6.2 percent.

The most rapid decrease began in the mid-1990s, but smoking has actually risen again among men since 2010, said the findings.

“This deceleration in the global trend was in part due to increases in the number of smokers since 2006 in several large countries including Bangladesh, China, Indonesia and Russia,” said the study.

China had 182 million smokers in 1980, and nearly 282 million in 2012, it said.

India gained 35 million smokers — bringing its total to 110 million — even though the smoking rate fell from 19 to 13 percent of the population.

Russia, where about one third of people smoke, has added one million smokers since 1980.

Globally, the number of smokers has climbed from 721 million in 1980 to 967 million in 2012.

The number of cigarettes smoked annually has also risen 26 percent over the past three decades.

“The greatest health risks are likely to occur in countries with high prevalence and high consumption,” said the study.

Those countries include China, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Korea, the Philippines, Uruguay, Switzerland and Russia, it said.

The highest smoking rates among men in 2012 were in Timor-Leste (61 percent) and Indonesia (57 percent), followed by Armenia (51.5 percent), Russia (51 percent) and Cyprus (48 percent).

Top countries for women smokers were Greece (34.7 percent) and Bulgaria (31.5 percent).

Austria had a female smoking rate of 28.3 percent, followed by France (27.7 percent) and Belgium (26.1 percent).

A larger proportion of women in France smoked in 2012 (28 percent) than 1980 (19 percent), while the rate for men went the opposite direction, declining from 42 percent to 34 percent.

In all, France had 14 million smokers in 2012, two million more people than in 1980.

The study also measured how many cigarettes on average were consumed per smoker each day in 2012, and found Mauritania was the highest with 41, or two packs a day.

Saudi Arabia’s smokers averaged 35 cigarettes per day, and Taiwan’s 32.

“As tobacco remains a threat to the health of the world’s population, intensified efforts to control its use are needed,” said the study.

The research also examined where the biggest gains against smoking have been made since 1980, particularly in countries where more than one in five people smoked.

Iceland, Mexico and Canada had the most significant declines (three percent), followed by Sweden, Norway and Denmark.

The United States, New Zealand, Australia and Britain rounded out the top 10 for the drop in smoking rates.

The U.S. smoking rate went from 30.6 percent in 1980 to 15.8 percent in 2012. Similar trends were seen in Australia.

“Globally, there has been significant progress in combating the deadly toll of tobacco use,” said Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, who was not involved in the study.

“Where countries take strong action, tobacco use can be dramatically reduced.”

Photo: Daniel Barry via AFP

Many Democrats are getting nervous about the upcoming presidential election. Ominous, extensively reported articles by two of the best in the business—the New Yorker's Jeffrey Toobin and The Atlantic's Barton Gellman—outline Boss Trump's plot to keep control of the White House in 2021 no matter how the American people vote.
Trump is hardly making a secret of it. He's pointedly refused to commit to "a peaceful transfer of power."

"Well, we're going to have to see what happens," is how he answered the question. He added that after we "get rid of the ballots"—presumably mail-in ballots he's been whining about for weeks--"there won't be a transfer, frankly. There'll be a continuation."

Of course, Trump himself has always voted by mail, but then brazen hypocrisy is his standard operating mode. If you haven't noticed, he also lies a lot. Without prevaricating, boasting, and bitching, he'd be mute. And even then, he'd still have Twitter. He recently tweeted that the winner "may NEVER BE ACCURATELY DETERMINED" because mail-in ballots make it a "RIGGED ELECTION in waiting."
Gellman gets this part exactly right in The Atlantic: "Let us not hedge about one thing. Donald Trump may win or lose, but he will never concede. Not under any circumstance. Not during the Interregnum and not afterward. If compelled in the end to vacate his office, Trump will insist from exile, as long as he draws breath, that the contest was rigged.
"Trump's invincible commitment to this stance will be the most important fact about the coming Interregnum. It will deform the proceedings from beginning to end. We have not experienced anything like it before."
No, we haven't. However, it's important to remember that Trump makes threats and promises almost daily that never happen. Remember that gigantic border wall Mexico was going to pay for? Trump has built exactly five miles of the fool thing, leaving roughly two thousand to go.
His brilliant cheaper, better health care plan? Non-existent.
On Labor Day, Boss Trump boasted of his unparalleled success in strong-arming Japan into building new auto-manufacturing plants. "They're being built in Ohio, they're being built in South Carolina, North Carolina, they're being built all over and expanded at a level that we've never seen before."
Not a word of that is true. Two new plants, one German, another Swedish have opened in South Carolina, but construction began before Trump took office. Auto industry investment during Barack Obama's second term far exceeded Trump's. His version is sheer make-believe.
But back to the GOP scheme to steal the election.
First, it's clear that even Trump understands that he has virtually no chance of winning the national popular vote. He's been polling in the low 40s, with no sign of change. To have any chance of prevailing in the Electoral College, he's got to do the electoral equivalent of drawing to an inside straight all over again—winning a half-dozen so-called battleground states where he defeated Hillary Clinton in 2016 by the narrowest of margins.
At this writing, that looks highly unlikely. The latest polling in must-win Pennsylvania, for example, shows Trump trailing Joe Biden by nine points. That's a landslide. Trump's down ten in Wisconsin, eight in Michigan. And so on.
So spare me the screeching emails in ALL CAPS, OK? Polls were actually quite accurate in 2016. Trump narrowly defeated the odds. It can happen. But he's in far worse shape this time. Furthermore, early voting turnout is very high, with Democrats outnumbering Republicans two to one.
Hence, The Atlantic reports, "Trump's state and national legal teams are already laying the groundwork for post-election maneuvers that would circumvent the results of the vote count in battleground states."
The plan is clear. Because more Democrats than Republicans are choosing mail-in voting during the COVID pandemic, Trump hopes to prevent those ballots from being counted. Assuming he'll have a narrow "swing state" lead on election night, he'll declare victory and start filing lawsuits. "The red mirage," some Democrats call it.
"As a result," Toobin writes, "the aftermath of the 2020 election has the potential to make 2000 look like a mere skirmish." With Trump in the White House urging armed militias to take to the street.
Mail-in votes take a long time to count. Things could definitely get crazy.
True, but filing a lawsuit to halt a Florida recount was one thing. Filing suits against a half dozen states to prevent votes from being counted at all is quite another. Public reaction would be strong. Also, winning such lawsuits requires serious evidence of fraud. Trumpian bluster ain't evidence.
The Atlantic reports that GOP-controlled state legislatures are thinking about sending Trumpist delegations to the Electoral College regardless of the popular vote winner—theoretically constitutional but currently illegal.
Fat chance. If that's the best they've got, they've got nothing.
Anyway, here's the answer: Vote early, and in person*.

[Editor's note: In some states, receiving an absentee ballot means that a voter can no longer vote in person* or may have to surrender the absentee ballot, including the envelope in which it arrived, at their polling place. Please check with your local election authorities.]