What we know about the worldwide decline in tobacco use

What we know about the worldwide decline in tobacco use

Almost every country on the planet has reduced its tobacco intake in 2020, according to the WHO’s latest findings.

Tobacco usage is one of the world’s leading causes of premature death, accounting for more than 8 million fatalities and costing the global economy $1.4 trillion annually.

Cigarette smoking in particular is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, resulting in nearly one in five deaths each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In response to these risk factors, the global prevalence of tobacco use has been declining steadily over the past two decades, according to The World Health Organisation (WHO).

Last month, the WHO published its latest findings in the fourth edition of its Global report on trends in prevalence of tobacco use 2000–2025.

The report pulled data from surveys conducted by 165 countries to show that 22.3 percent of all people aged 15 and older used tobacco in 2020, down from 32.7 percent in 2001.

At least 150 countries are seeing tobacco use decline with 60 of them on track to meet reduction goals set under the WHO’s Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases 2013–2020.

One of the main targets set in the action plan is to reduce the global prevalence of tobacco use by 30 percent by 2025 compared to 2010.

WHO’s Assistant Director-General of Universal Health Coverage, Dr. Naoko Yamamoto said the report “comes at a time of precious little good news in public health.”

“Despite the Covid-19 pandemic diverting attention, countries have continued the good work on tobacco control because its benefits for health and wellbeing are immediate and clear,” said Yamamoto.

So what do we know about this decline so far?

There is a huge gender and age divide among consumers

Tobacco use has been dubbed “the male vice” by Statistica, and they’re not wrong.

Men consume tobacco almost five times more than women across the globe, according to WHO estimates.

The prevalence among women aged 15 and older was at 7.8 percent in 2020, compared to 36.7 percent among men in the same age group.

In 2000, one in four tobacco users in the world were women, and by 2025 the ratio is expected to be one in six.

The gender difference is widest in the Western Pacific region where one in 18 tobacco users is female, compared to the Americas and the European regions, where one in three tobacco users are female.

However, for both genders there has been a steady decline in tobacco use in each age group from 2000–2020.

Among the ages, tobacco use is higher in older groups. The WHO reported that 28.5 percent of 45 to 54-year-olds worldwide consumed tobacco in 2020, compared to 14.2 percent among 15 to 24-year-olds.

The tobacco use rates peak at age group 45–54 for men, and for women peak at age group 55–64.