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Tobacco smoking in seven Latin American cities: the CARMELA study
  1. B M Champagne1,
  2. E M Sebrié2,
  3. H Schargrodsky3,
  4. P Pramparo4,
  5. C Boissonnet5,
  6. E Wilson6
  1. 1InterAmerican Heart Foundation, Dallas, Texas, USA
  2. 2Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, New York, USA
  3. 3Department of Cardiology, Italian Hospital, Buenos Aires, Argentina
  4. 4InterAmerican Heart Foundation, Buenos Aires, Argentina
  5. 5Coronary Care Unit, Centre for Medical Education and Clinical Research “Norberto Quirno”, Buenos Aires, Argentina
  6. 6School of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Rochester, Rochester, New York, USA
  1. Correspondence to Ernesto M Sebrié, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Elm & Carlton Streets, Buffalo, NY 14263, USA; ernesto.sebrie{at}


Objective This study aimed to explore tobacco smoking in seven major cities of Latin America.

Methods The Cardiovascular Risk Factor Multiple Evaluation in Latin America (CARMELA) study is a cross-sectional epidemiological study of 11 550 adults between 25 and 64 years old in Barquisimeto, Venezuela; Bogota, Colombia; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Lima, Peru; Mexico City, Mexico; Quito, Ecuador; and Santiago, Chile. Tobacco smoking, including cigarettes, cigars and pipes, was surveyed among other cardiovascular risk factors.

Results Santiago and Buenos Aires had the highest smoking prevalence (45.4% and 38.6%, respectively); male and female rates were similar. In other cities, men smoked more than women, most markedly in Quito (49.4% of men vs 10.5% of women). Peak male smoking prevalence occurred among the youngest two age groups (25–34 and 35–44 years old). Men and women of Buenos Aires smoked the highest number of cigarettes per day on average (15.7 and 12.4, respectively). Men initiated regular smoking earlier than women in each city (ranges 13.7–20.0 years vs 14.2–21.1 years, respectively). Exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke at workplace for more than 5 h per day was higher in Barquisimeto (28.7%), Buenos Aires (26.8%) and Santiago (21.5%). The highest prevalence of former smokers was found among men in Buenos Aires, Santiago and Lima (30.0%, 26.8% and 26.0% respectively).

Conclusions Smoking prevalence was high in the seven CARMELA cities, although patterns of smoking varied among cities. A major health and economic burden is inevitable in urban Latin America unless effective comprehensive tobacco control measures recommended by the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control are implemented.

  • Cardiovascular risk factors
  • smoking prevalence
  • secondhand tobacco smoke
  • chronic diseases
  • cross-sectional epidemiological study
  • prevalence
  • surveillance and monitoring

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  • Funding The CARMELA study was funded by an unrestricted research grant from Pfizer, Inc. to the InterAmerican Heart Foundation, a non-profit, tax-exempt organisation as a cooperative and innovative effort between a heart foundation dedicated to heart health (IAHF), a medical society dedicated to the control of hypertension (LASH), and a private sector organisation (Pfizer, Inc.). Dr Sebrié was supported by the Flight Attendant Medical Research Institute (FAMRI).

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the local human research ethics committees in each country.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.