GENEVA: Just one in five individuals across the globe is still lighting up or otherwise consuming tobacco, the UN’s health agency says. But some countries experiencing a rise in tobacco use.
Big Tobacco’s efforts to keep people smoking have been failing, with the number of individuals across the world using tobacco falling dramatically in a generation, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
The global prevalence of tobacco use has significantly dropped in a generation, with one in five people currently smoking or participating in other forms of tobacco consumption, compared to one in three in the year 2000. However, the WHO emphasizes the need for continued efforts to break the addiction to this harmful substance.
According to the WHO’s global report, 1.25 billion people aged 15 and above used tobacco in 2022, down from 1.36 billion in 2000. The study predicts a further decline in tobacco use by 2030 to approximately 1.2 billion people, despite the expected global population growth. Southeast Asia and Europe exhibit the highest proportions of smokers, accounting for roughly a quarter of their respective populations still grappling with tobacco addiction. Notably, certain countries, including Egypt, Jordan, and Indonesia, are witnessing an upward trend in tobacco use, according to the study.
The report also highlights a concerning statistic, indicating that globally, an average of 10% of 13- to 15-year-olds use one or more types of tobacco, totalling at least 37 million adolescents. This includes at least 12 million individuals using emerging smokeless tobacco products. The WHO underscores that these figures are likely underestimated, as over 70 countries lack relevant data.
Despite progress in tobacco control, Dr. Rüdiger Krech, director of the WHO Department of Health Promotion, urges vigilance, noting the tobacco industry’s relentless pursuit of profits at the expense of lives. He points out that when governments believe they have succeeded in the fight against tobacco, the industry manipulates health policies to continue selling their lethal products.
The WHO issues a stark warning that tobacco-related deaths will persist at high levels for years, even with declining user numbers. Tobacco use claims over 8 million lives annually, including an estimated 1.3 million nonsmokers exposed to secondhand smoke. Smoking is linked to various health problems, including cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung diseases, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according to the US Centers for Disease Control.