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National Cancer Institute

International Research on Tobacco Use

This is an image of a pile of pinned buttons with multiple country flags on them.

The Tobacco Control Research Branch (TCRB) supports global research efforts that seek to understand tobacco use patterns. TCRB also collaborates with a range of partners in building the evidence base needed to support global tobacco control and prevention.

Tobacco use remains a leading cause of preventable death and disease worldwide. While tobacco use has been slowly declining in most high-income nations, including the US, it has continued to increase in other parts of the globe. Worldwide, an estimated 41 percent of men and 9 percent of women (aged ≥15 years) smoke tobacco products. Of the 800 million adult men who currently smoke cigarettes, over 80 percent are in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). In addition, tobacco use is the leading preventable risk factor for cancer, causing over 20 percent of global cancer deaths and about 70 percent of global lung cancer deaths.

Driven by the World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), many countries are now adopting new and innovative tobacco control policies. However, these changes are being introduced in different ways and on different timelines, creating a large-scale “natural experiment” with unique opportunities for studying the impact of tobacco control interventions across different environments. Additionally, the global tobacco control environment is changing rapidly because of new technology and mass media channels, the introduction of new tobacco products, and economic and policy developments. While a large body of tobacco control research has been generated in high-income countries, this work is only partly applicable to the evolving social, economic, and cultural climate of many LMICs. Expanding tobacco control research and research capacity in LMICs is crucial to reducing tobacco use and cancer rates worldwide. Furthermore, research conducted in countries around the world can yield important insights for understanding tobacco use behaviors and the effectiveness of tobacco control interventions in the US.

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Contact Information

Mark Parascandola, Ph.D., M.P.H.