Smoking is still rampant worldwide (Reuters)

Health experts are calling for more action to fight the spread of smoking across the world, with new research identifying 852 million smokers.

Researchers from New York and Atlanta have carried out research that shows nearly half of adult men in developing countries still using tobacco products and women increasingly starting to smoke at a younger age.

According to their study, published in The Lancet, rates of quitting smoking in most countries remain low.

Gary Giovino, from the University at Buffalo School of Public Health and Health Professions, said more work is needed to install effective anti-smoking policies and treatments worldwide.

"Although 1.1 billion people have been covered by the adoption of the most effective tobacco-control policies since 2008, 83 percent of the world's population are not covered by two or more of these policies," he said.

"Our findings come at a crucial point for tobacco control, several years after the ratification of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, and reinforce the need for effective tobacco control."

Men still top smokers

The study used data from the Global Adult Tobacco Surveys undertaken 2008 through 2010. From the raw figures, the study authors compared tobacco use and cessation in adults from 14 countries of low and middle income, using nationally representative data available for the U.S. and UK.

Men were found to be far more likely to smoke than women, with 41 percent smoking compared to 5 percent in women. This was widely different in different countries, with as many as 60 percent of Russian men smoking, compared to 22 percent in Brazil.

The study found that there was a notable rise in smoking amongst women, especially those of younger ages. Women in the UK and the U.S. had some of the highest smoking rates amongst women, or 21 percent and 16 percent respectively.

Quit rates were found to be very low in GATS countries, with fewer than 20 percent of adults who had ever smoked in China, India , Egypt and Bangladesh saying they had quit. The UK and U.S. were among the best countries for quit ratios.

Sign of the times?

Commenting on the study, Jeffrey Koplan from Emory University in the U.S. and Judith Mackay from the World Lung Foundation in Hong Kong branded the global underinvestment in tobacco control as "extraordinary".

They said tobacco marketing remains rampant and predict more young people and women will start smoking unless serious changes are made.

They add: "Core funding by governments for implementing the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control within their own countries is woefully inadequate for the enormity of the epidemic.

"For example, in low-income countries, for every $9100 received in tobacco taxes, only $1 was spent on control."