In the U.S. and other developed countries, big tobacco is on the run. Fewer than 20% of Americans now smoke the lowest percentage since reliable records started being kept. This year, Washington boosted federal cigarette taxes from 32 cents a pack to $1 and gave the FDA the power to regulate cigarettes like any other food or drug. But the West is not the world, and elsewhere, smoking is exploding. This year tobacco companies will produce more than 5 trillion cigarettes or about 830 for every person on the planet. In China, 350 million people are hooked on tobacco, which means the country has more smokers than the U.S. has people. Smoking rates in Indonesia have quintupled since 1970. Africa still enjoys the lowest smoking rates in the world, largely because most people there can't afford cigarettes. But the tobacco industry abhors a vacuum, and in recent years, it has been working hard to fill it. In 2003 the World Health Assembly, the decision-making body of the World Health Organization, adopted a treaty designed to attack global smoking through a mix of methods including bans and tax hikes. So far, 167 countries have signed the pact determined to snuff the butts for good.
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