Article Text

The tobacco epidemic in Japan
  1. HIROSHI KAWANE
  1. Division of Respiratory Diseases
  2. Department of Medicine
  3. Kawasaki Medical School
  4. Kurashiki City, Okayama
  5. Japan

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    I read with great interest the editorial on the tobacco epidemic1 by Dr Britton in the December issue ofThorax. According to a survey conducted by the Japan Tobacco Inc in 1996 the prevalence of smoking was 57.5% among men and 14.2% among women. In 1986 the percentage of men who smoked was 62.5% and that of women 12.6%.2 Thus, the proportion of Japan’s adult male population who smoke has fallen by only 5% in the past 10 years while that of women has increased by 1.6%. In other words, about 27.1 million men and 7.1 million women now smoke in Japan.

    As respiratory physicians we are responsible not only for smoking cessation treatment but also for anti-smoking campaigns.3The Japanese Respiratory Society (formerly the Japan Society of Chest Diseases) announced in May 1997 that it strongly urged medical personnel and patients as well as all the population to give up smoking. This kind of official statement by a medical society is rare in Japan and we physicians should be the first to respond. Although the smoking prevalence among chest physicians was about 23% in 1996,4 I hope the announcement will see a reduction in this level.

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