For more than 40 years, the United States has wrestled with tabacco-related illness, death, and economic losses. The struggle began with a startling report from the U.S. Surgeon General in 1964 linking lung cancer to cigarette smoking.
The Center for Disease Control estimates that smoking is responsible for about one in five death in the U.S. And the American Lung Association estimates that American cigarettes cost $167 billlion in health care expenses and lost productivity.
Asian-Americans have by far the lowest rate of smokers of any American ethnic group. But that does not translate to Asia. Over 300 million Chinese men smoke. The World Health Organization estimates about 1.2 Chinese, 90,000 Japanese, 57,000 Indonesians, 52,000 Thais and 40,000 Vietnameses die each year from smoking.
In May 2003, WHO created the world's first global health treaty to combat smoking. More than 100 nations have ratified it, including China and all Southeast Asian and Pacific nations other than Indonesia, Laos, and Borneo.
Listen to our Health report for more details.