By Arkady Petrov, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – If you say “yes” to smoking, you belong to a minority in Brazil. In the last 12 years, according to the Ministry of Health, there has been a 40 percent reduction in the country’s smoking rate.

In the most recent study, 9.3 percent of respondents declared themselves as smokers in 2018. The information was released on Friday, May 31st, the “World No Tobacco Day”.

Young woman blowing out smoke. (Photo Alamy)

Data is from Vigitel, a study developed by researchers from the University of São Paulo (USP) and the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG), together with experts from the Health Surveillance Bureau of the Ministry of Health.

For the 2018 survey, 52,395 people over the age of 18 were interviewed by phone in all state capitals and the Federal District.

According to this year’s research, the heaviest smokers are found within the least educated–13 percent among those with up to eight years of schooling–while for those with 12 or more years of education, the incidence is only 6.2 percent.

In general, men (12.1 percent) smoke more than women (6.9 percent). Young adults under the age of 25 and adults over the age of 65 are the least likely to smoke.

The highest incidence of smokers is recorded among people aged 55 to 64 (12.3 percent).

Psychiatrist Maria Celia Vitor de Souza, a specialist in the treatment of addiction to alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs, credits the decrease to actions developed by the Brazilian government and the World Health Organization (WHO).

She emphasizes that the Unified Health System (SUS) offers anti-smoking care in its Basic Health Units (UBS).

Despite the reduction, vigilance continues. According to Maria Celia de Souza, tobacco is still the main cause of preventable deaths and must be tackled.

Data from the National Cancer Institute (Inca) suggests that smoking kills 428 people a day in Brazil. In all, 156,216 cancer-related deaths could be avoided every year.

Capitals registering the highest incidence of smokers are Porto Alegre (14.4 percent), São Paulo (12.5 percent), and Curitiba (11.4 percent), whereas those with the lowest rates are Salvador (4.8 percent), São Luís (4.8 percent), and Belém (4.9 percent).

The Federal District registers 8.3 percent of smokers among those interviewed.

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