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10 smokers’ paradises: A guide for globe-trotters from the LA Times

With so many places around the world instituting smoking regulations, increasing taxes and, quite literally, kicking smokers to the curb, it’s getting harder to find cigarette-friendly vacation spots.
But not every country is trying to kill that buzz. On the flip side, some of them, such as Greece, are attempting to crack down but are failing miserably.
You may feel alone smoking in some major U.S. cities, so The Los Angeles Times just compiled a list of countries with the most prevalent tobacco use among people aged 15 or older, based on 2005 data from the World Health Organization.
Nonsmokers, too, will want to take note of the list. As you might guess, a smoker’s paradise can be, in turn, a nonsmoker’s hell.

1. Greece: Because their country belongs to the European Union, Greeks are exposed to smoking literature and regulations that condemn the habit.

But that’s not going to stop them. More than half of all adults, or 51.8%, living in Greece smoke tobacco. It’s the only country above the halfway mark, according to the WHO data.

Surprisingly, though, tobacco use among Greek adolescents is relatively low, at 16.2%. That puts the number of Greek users aged 13 to 15 at No. 76 of all countries where data were collected.

Maybe all that anti-tobacco talk is starting to influence the younger generation. Either that or their parents are. Ask most kids, and you’ll find that anything Mom and Dad do is uncool.

2. Nauru: This tiny island republic near Papua New Guinea was previously known as Pleasant Island. That’s probably because nobody told the legion of smokers about lung cancer. WHO reports that 49.2% of the island’s inhabitants smoke tobacco. Still, we’re guessing Marlboro hasn’t bothered targeting the 14,000 or so living there.

3. Russia: Some Russians use cigarettes as a way to trick the body into feeling warmer. It’s no wonder then that 48.5% of the Russian Federation population uses tobacco. Smokers heading for the frozen motherland should probably bring along a pack of smokes and a bottle of vodka. It’s a party!

4. Austria: While much of America’s narrow view of Austrians may center around California’s governor, the health buff, it’s hard to imagine Arnold Schwarzenegger pumping iron and puffing smoke. In fact, Schwarzenegger is a “cigar aficionado” of sorts. And 43.3% of people who live in Austria consume tobacco.

5. Belarus: Unsurprisingly, the former Soviet Union territory, which is bordered by Russia to the north and east, picked up the nicotine habit. Of about 9 million residents, 42.6% of the adults use tobacco.

6. Bosnia and Herzegovina: Looking for a smoking-friendly place with varied climate and topography? This southeastern European country isn’t a bad spot. You won’t feel left out when you light up because 42.3% of adults will be right there with you.

7. Serbia: As it turns out, smoking is pretty hip in southeastern Europe. Adult smoking in Serbia parallels that of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Tobacco popularity among adolescents is similar as well — around 13%.

8. Samoa: Looking for a tropical isle on which to lounge around, cigarette in hand? Forty-one percent of adults in the island nation of Western Samoa, located in the Pacific Ocean, puff on tobacco.

9. Laos: WHO data were incomplete for Vietnam and Myanmar, also known as Burma — although what we have show strong signs of tobacco use. But for the bordering Lao People’s Democratic Republic, smokers are aplenty, encompassing 40.5% of the adult population. Interestingly, Laos has even fewer adolescent smokers than Greece does, amounting to just under 9%.

10. Hungary: Smoking is just as prevalent in the central part of the Continent as in the southeastern part. Smokers looking for a safe haven won’t be alone: Hungary is a popular tourist destination.
(source: LA Times)

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