One in five adults use tobacco worldwide, down since 2000

One in five adults use tobacco worldwide, down since 2000

The efforts undertaken in the fight against tobacco on a global scale are bearing fruit, as suggested by the latest estimates from the World Health Organization made public this Tuesday. One in five adults consume tobacco in the world, or 1.25 billion people aged 15 and over, compared to one in three in 2000. A “continuous decline” which reflects the progress made in recent years, but which must be continue through “tobacco control policies”, as enjoined by the world authority.

These encouraging results do not prevent the WHO from recalling that the decline in tobacco consumption should reach 25% worldwide by 2025, much less than the 30% set compared to the 2010 reference level. The world health authority specifies in this respect that only 56 countries should succeed in achieving this objective, four fewer since the last report presented in 2021.Smoking prevalence has changed little since 2010 in some countries, while six countries are still seeing tobacco consumption increase: Congo, Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, Oman and the Republic of Moldova“, we can read in a press release.

Nearly a third of men

If we look at tobacco consumption among men and women aged 15 and over since 2000, we see that the decline is overall more marked among these gentlemen. An observation that must be put into perspective since there were also more of them consuming tobacco products around 25 years ago. Nearly half of men aged over 15 used at least one tobacco product in 2000, compared to 41.6% in 2010, 35.5% in 2020, and – according to projections – 32.9% in 2025 and 30.6% in 2030. As for women, the share of female consumers increased from 16.3% in 2000 (three times less than men) to 7.9% in 2020 and should fall to 5.7% in 2030. Here again, the objectives have not been achieved for either women or men. Note, however, that 82% of current smokers aged 15 or over in the world were men in 2022.

Notable progress has been made in the fight against tobacco in recent years, but there is no time for complacency. I am amazed at the extent to which the tobacco industry is willing to seek profits at the expense of countless lives. We see that the moment a government thinks it has won the fight against tobacco, the tobacco industry seizes the opportunity to manipulate health policies and sell its deadly products“, insists Dr Ruediger Krech, director of the WHO health promotion department. Faced with this observation, the health authority encourages countries “to continue to implement tobacco control policies and to continue to fight against the interference of the tobacco industry.

Down among young people but…

Other good news is that consumption has also decreased among young people aged 15 to 24, going from 20.5% in 2000 to just over 13% in 2022, and is expected to reach 11.8% in 2030. Figures there also encouraging, although the WHO emphasizes the importance of making efforts to keep young people away from tobacco products. “National surveys consistently show that children aged 13 to 15 in most countries use tobacco and nicotine products. To protect future generations and ensure that tobacco consumption continues to decline, WHO will dedicate this year’s World No Tobacco Day to protecting children from tobacco industry interference“.

Another observation and not the least, the WHO region of South-East Asia is currently the one with the highest proportion of adults consuming tobacco (51.2% in 2000, 26.5% in 2022), just ahead of the European region (34.4% in 2000, 25.3% in 2022). However, the situation should change by 2030. The European region should have the highest proportion of smokers, expected at 23.1%, compared to 22% for the South-East Asia region. It is also in this region that the decline is most marked over the period studied. “Smoking rates among women in the WHO European region are more than double the global average and falling much more slowly than in all other regions“, also specifies the report.

*Data are from nationally representative population surveys that collected data on one or more forms of tobacco use between 1990 and 2022. The population of interest consists of people aged 15 and over . All closed in February 2023.​