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Between 1990 and 2015, smoking declined by almost a third, from 29.4% to 15.3%. Yet due to the population increase, the number of smokers has increased from 870.4 million in 1990, to 933.1 million in 2015.
The data was collected between 1990 and 2015, in over 195 countries, and found that over one in ten deaths is caused by the habit, amounting to 6.4 million, half of which take place in China, India, USA, and Russia.

The study was published on The Lancet two days ago, and the authors pointed out that despite all the efforts and campaigns that have taken place in the last years, the “war against tobacco” is far from won, and pointed out that there is a dire need for renewed and sustained efforts. The authors calculated that presently one in four men, 25%, smoke and one in 20 women, which amounts to 5.4%.

Between 1990 and 2015, smoking declined by almost a third, from 29.4% to 15.3%. Yet these percentages are relative to the population growth, hence despite these improvements, due to the population increase, the number of smokers has increased from 870.4 million in 1990, to 933.1 million in 2015.

Alarming numbers

“Despite more than half a century of unequivocal evidence of the harmful effects of tobacco on health, today, one in every four men in the world is a daily smoker,” said senior author Dr. Emmanuela Gakidou.

“Smoking remains the second largest risk factor for early death and disability, and so to further reduce its impact we must intensify tobacco control to further reduce smoking prevalence and attributable burden.” she added.

“Despite more than half a century of unequivocal evidence of the harmful effects of tobacco on health, today, one in every four men in the world is a daily smoker.” Dr. Emmanuela Gakidou, study author.

The 10 countries with the largest number of smokers in 2015 were China, India, Indonesia, USA, Russia, Bangladesh, Japan, Brazil, Germany and the Philippines. Together these countries accounted for a significant 63.6% of the world’s smokers.

Vaping products could be part of the solution

Public health experts would agree that figures like the ones obtained from this study are why implementing harm reduction methods is so important. While countries such as Canada and New Zealand are in the process of reviewing data about the efficacy of vaping products for smoking cessation, the UK is a step ahead and has been achieving positive results since endorsing the products. The country is currently reporting the lowest number of smokers ever recorded.

  • Bill Angove

    I’m giving up giving up and going back to vaping. They say vaping is “95% safer” than smoking, well it certainly doesn’t have any Carbon Monoxide and so that’s good, or at least it doesn’t have much CO. Who knows what they put in the eliquids? I still think vaping is bad for you but I just can’t quit, even on Champix.

    Some of these stats are a bit redundant. Obviously the most smokers are going to be in the countries with the largest populations such as China and the Philippines. But overall it was a very interesting article, thank you for writing it.

    I did not know that there were more smokers in the world than ever before. It would be interesting to know what proportion of smokers in the western world are women, for example in the UK.

    6.4 million seems like a strange statistic. Is that in the whole world, per year (deaths from smoking , I mean)?