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The health ramifications of smoking are widely known. In 2015, smoking was the second leading risk factor for death and disability globally, accounting for 11.5% of deaths and 6.0% of disability-adjusted life years. Of the 7.1 million deaths attributed to tobacco use in 2016, 6.3 million were due to cigarette smoking. While the worldwide rate of tobacco smoking has declined substantially in recent years, the absolute number of people currently smoking has increased from approximately 720 million smokers in 1980 to an estimated 1.1 billion today, as a consequence of population growth in many low- and middle-income countries outpacing the declining smoking prevalence.
The Health, Science, and Technology (HST) division of the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World (the Foundation) strives to advance global scientific tobacco research to end smoking within this generation. By investing in institutions and projects in countries where most smokers live, we address the global research capacity mismatch. We support the building of research centers of excellence worldwide to counter the limited global research capacity. By identifying data and knowledge gaps, we discover the most urgent research questions in need of an answer. We believe that a focus on both smoking cessation and harm reduction will lead to greater health benefits than focusing on smoking cessation alone. We therefore invest in the development of innovative and effective smoking cessation tools as well as accessible reduced-risk products.