Global Cigarette Smoking Facts and Trends 2019
11 min read
11 min read
The ban, that most developed countries have put on cigarette smoking in public, led to a decline in tobacco consumption. This was especially seen in major cities in the US, Canada, and Europe over the past couple of decades. However, according to data of the World Health Organization smoking is on the rise again, but this time in developing countries – about 80% of the smokers in the world today live in the developing countries.
On the other hand, smoking costs some serious money, so where do these people that don’t seem that well off finance their bad habit? Researching tobacco smoking, we have found some very interesting trends and patterns.
Globally, 942 million men and 175 million women aged 15 or older are current smokers. This is around 20% of the world population. Far fewer women than men use tobacco. Globally, about 40% of men smoke as compared with nearly 9% of women. 
Boys and girls start using tobacco for different reasons Many more girls than boys smoke in the false belief that it is a good way to control weight. Low self-esteem is associated with smoking among girls, and available evidence from some developed countries shows that girls have lower self-esteem than boys. Tobacco control strategies must recognize that boys’ and girls’ decisions to start using tobacco are influenced by different cultural, psychosocial and socioeconomic factors.
The number of cigarettes smoked worldwide is finally decreasing. Many of the tobacco industry’s largest markets are highly populous countries across Asia, and the fastest growth is largely in Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean.
The average number of cigarettes smoked per day is 10, for both men and women.
Nearly three-quarters of male daily smokers live in countries with a medium or high human development index (HDI), whereas half of the female daily smokers live in very high-HDI countries.
Male smoking prevalence in most medium- to very high-HDI countries substantially increased in the past century, though this generally happened earlier in very high-HDI countries (the first half vs. second half of the 20th century). Almost all very high-HDI countries saw a significant decrease in male smoking after the 1950s.
Although overall consumption has declined slightly over the past few years, the future path of global tobacco control is still uncertain. Despite the rhetorical commitment of some in the tobacco industry toward a smoke-free world, all major tobacco companies continue to aggressively advertise cigarettes and vigorously fight tobacco control efforts around the world. The significant reductions in smoking rates in the United Kingdom, Australia, Brazil, and other countries that have implemented the most advanced tobacco control laws globally are almost entirely offset by the increasing consumption in many countries with weaker tobacco control regulations.
Cigarette consumption is predicted to increase in many low- and medium-HDI countries due to dynamic economic development and continued population growth. For example, the number of tobacco smokers is set to increase by 24 million in Indonesia and by 7 million in Nigeria from 2015 to 2025. China, whose people smoke more than 40% of all cigarettes globally, remains a challenge. Although cigarette use in China has begun to decline, half of the Chinese adult males continue to smoke cigarettes. 
More than 80% of all smokers now live in countries with low or middle incomes, and 60% in just 10 countries, a list headed by China. China is one of the world’s largest countries and is also the leading country in the cigarette industry. In 2014, China produced and consumed more than 30% of the cigarettes in the world.
There is a strong relationship between socioeconomic status (SES) and smoking behaviours. According to research, developing countries have the highest rate of tobacco use. “China was found to be one of the countries with the highest male-to-female ratio of smoking prevalence”: 74% of males and 8% of females were smokers.
Over half of adult males in Indonesia are smokers (57%, but mostly kretek, a local form of cigarette) and China (53% estimated), and nearly half in Bangladesh, though for women the figure is much lower.
Cigars have been, and still are, associated with masculinity, power and is an iconic image associated with the stereotypical capitalist. This is still the norm in many countries, that smoking is considered manly and cool: Russia, Indonesia, China, etc. For some (Japan) is a way to relax and break the rules and in many western European countries, smoking is now associated with low-income groups and a lack of education.
In countries like Britain and the USA, where there is a strong anti-smoking lobby, non-smokers resent the lengthy cigarette breaks taken by smoking colleagues. Smoking is socially isolating unless you happen to have a lot of smoking colleagues, in which case, the smokers in a group will form an instant bond. As a non-smoker, you will not win friends in business if you sit in front of your client fanning the air and coughing pointedly. Here are some examples of the smoking culture around the world.
Africa is projected to pick up smoking, even more, reaching about 40% saturation in 2025. All income segments are expected to increase consumption. This is where tobacco companies are waging their campaigns. Africa is slowly receiving the supply of cigarettes the rest of the world is trying to quit. This market is very young, so the growth prospects are pretty big.
Europe is projected to see a drop until 2020, and then an even sharper fall until 2025 when about 30% of people will be smokers. Even given encouraging decline, Europe’s market is mature and already hosts some of the most smoke-happy people in the world (smoking became cool in Europe, even if thanks to American advertising tactics).
Asia is a diverse place. Poor countries will have some of the sharpest drops in smoking frequency worldwide; and well-off countries (where a pack counts for very, very little) will encounter very slight increases until the early 2020’s — only to go down after that. That makes the overall picture very stable with fluctuations of under 10% when in fact, the continent is undergoing some heavily dynamic changes.
North America will see a drop in smoking as well, except for countries with low income. Even given this, this continent is expecting a drop till about ⅕ people will be smokers in 2025.
Oceania, a relatively uncharted land when it comes to tobacco consumption, will see a slower drop in smoking until the turn of the 2020’s only to drop harder until about ⅓ of people will smoke — much like Europe.
South America, where we only see middle-income nations, is on the brink of a sharp decline which will culminate in 2025 with the continent hosting the lowest percentage of smokers on the planet: just 19.78% of South Americans will consume tobacco in ten years time.
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