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UB Researcher Finds Big Tobacco Has Powerful Global Grip

A new study led by a University at Buffalo researcher shows that Big Tobacco has a strong grip globally, making for a huge challenge when it comes to curbing tobacco use around the world.

In what is being described as the world’s largest tobacco-use study, the survey of people from more than a dozen nations paints a picture of a powerful and manipulative tobacco industry controlling tobacco use, particularly in low- and middle-income countries.

“Our data reflect industry efforts to promote tobacco use,” said lead author Gary A. Giovino, chairman of the department of community health and health behavior at UB’s School of Public Health and Health Professions.

“These include marketing and mass media campaigns by companies that make smoking seem glamorous, especially for women,” he said. “The industry’s marketing efforts also equate tobacco use with Western themes, such as freedom and gender equality.”

The study – funded in part by anti-tobacco organizations – focused on 14 low- and middle-income countries, including Brazil, China, India and Mexico, using face-to-face interviews with more than 400,000.

The research showed nearly half of men and 11 percent of women used tobacco. “Quit ratios” were highest in Brazil and Uruguay, where tobacco control strategies are strongest, while those ratios were lowest in China, India, Russia and Egypt.

The study, released Thursday, was co-authored by Samira Asma, chief of Global Tobacco Control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Brazil and India governments.

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