Some 24 percent of people over 15 years old are habitual smokers in Cuba and half the population is exposed to tobacco smoke at home, at work or in public places, official Cuban media reported.
Among women, the percentage of smokers is around 16 percent, while among men it jumps to 31 percent, the coordinator of the working group on lung cancer at the Public Health Ministry, Patricia Varona, told the official AIN news agency.
Those figures are the result of the ministry's third survey about cancer risk factors, for which 9 million Cubans were consulted and which breaks down the statistics by sex, age, skin color, educational level and profession.
The part of the population between ages 40 and 50 was shown to have the most habitual smokers and the average age for beginning to use tobacco is at 17, while the gap between the number of male and female smokers is much less at that age.
According to the study, 17 percent of teenagers between 13 and 15 smoke.
By educational level, university students are those who consume the least tobacco.
The expert consulted by the Cuban news agency recalled that the smoking-provoked illnesses, lung cancer and ischemic cardiomyopathy, take the lives of some 1,500 Cubans every year.
Varona warned that smoking is responsible for more than 80 percent of the cases of lung cancer.