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Number of smokers in Italy declines

Men are more successful at quitting than women

18 May, 16:45
Number of smokers in Italy declines (ANSA) - Milan, May 18 - The number of smokers in Italy fell in one year by 1.9 million, reducing the percentage of the population who smoke from 25.4% to 21.7%, according to a new report from the High Institute of Health (ISS).

The report was drawn up in collaboration with the Italian League for the Fight Against cancer (Lilt) and the Mario Negri Institute and presented here on Tuesday ahead of the United Nations No Tobacco Day, May 31.

Of the 11.1 million Italians who still smoke, down from over 13 million a year ago, 5.9 million are men and 5.2 million women.

The percentage of the male population who smoke dropped in one year by five full percentage points, from 28.9% to 23.9%, while the decline among women was more modest, 2.6 percentage points, from 22.3% to 19.7% of the population.

This difference, some experts claim, is evidence that women, even though they smoke less than men, have a greater difficulty in quitting.

This year's decline in the number of Italian smokers offset an unexpected hike in 2009, which reversed a downward trend begun when Italy adopted tough anti-smoking laws six years earlier.

In its report last year, the ISS found that the percentage of Italian smokers rose from 22% to 25.4%, with the number of men smokers rising from 6.5 million to 7.1 million while women smokers jumped from 4.7 million to 6.5 million.

Thus while fewer men are smoking today than two years ago, the number of women smokers remains higher. According to the ISS, the increase in the number of smokers ''in part responded to a decrease in the number of ex-smokers, who represented 18.4% of the population in 2008 and today 14.6%''.

This meant that many people who were able to kick the habit were hooked once again. Based on this year's data, the percentage of the Italian population who smoke is now below 2008 levels.

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