Even though it is clear how to get people to stop smoking, rates are still rising in many countries—even some in the rich world.
For many Egyptian Muslims it is not the forgoing of food and drink during daylight hours that makes the holy month of Ramadan a difficult time: it is the corresponding restriction on smoking. Take Sayed, the manager of a modest Lebanese restaurant in Cairo. He has not eaten for nearly 16 hours and is surrounded by food. But after the muezzin calls out at sunset, he reaches for a cigarette. So does his staff. Of his 28 employees, only three do not smoke.
In much of the rich world, smoking seems to be doomed. In America, Australia, Britain, Canada and Italy, one in five or fewer people smoke (see chart). The better-off have mostly given up, and the poor are following. There’s a lag between a fall in the smoking rate and a fall in deaths from smoking, but even so in America and many other rich countries, smoking-related deaths are in decline. Continue reading