CANCER RATES IN COUNTRIES OF INDUSTRIALIZATION
In Western Europe and North America, rates of smoking in men are declining and with the rates of lung cancer (and other smoking-related diseases). In contrast, in large tracts of the developing world, rates of smoking are increasing rapidly as countries industrialize. The effect, this is likely to have on cancer rates, is illustrated by trends in Japan, where the rate of lung cancer between 1960 and 1980 is more than doubled as the effects of Japan’s industrialization took their toll. Similar changes are now being observed in countries like China. There are various reasons for this: the habit still has an aura of ‘coolness’ in these countries very different from the increasing pariah status of smokers in the West. There are generally lower levels of awareness of the health issues attached to smoking, and the restrictions on tobacco promotion increasingly seen in Europe and North America are not present. Indeed, officials in one recession-hit Chinese province recently decreed that all adults had to smoke the local cigarettes in order to boost both the local growers and tax revenues. Looking forwards, therefore, we can see that just as lung cancer declines as a problem in the ‘developed’ world, the newly industrializing economies will face an increasing burden of smoking-related cancers (and other problems such as heart disease) unless there is rapid adoption of the sorts of smoking-prevention strategies now the norm in Western Europe and North America. At present, this seems unlikely, and thus the industrializing world is likely to acquire one of the less desirable trappings of the developed world.