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25 April 2024

Smoke alarm: Half of all smokers will be killed by tobacco

By Staff

This should set the smoke alarm ringing. Smokers in Saudi Arabia on an average smoke 35 cigarettes a day, and their counterparts in Oman blow away 33 cigarettes per day, pushing them among the world’s top 10 countries with highest average consumption per smoker per day.

Smokers in GCC aspirant Yemen smoke away 30 cigarettes a day on an average, and it too features in the global top 10 list. These and a host of other smoking stats on smokers in 187 countries have been issued in a newly launched study titled Smoking Prevalence and Cigarette Consumption in 187 Countries.

“Tobacco control is particularly urgent in countries where the number of smokers is increasing,” said Alan Lopez, Laureate Professor at the University of Melbourne. “Since we know that half of all smokers will eventually be killed by tobacco, greater numbers of smokers will mean a massive increase in premature deaths in our lifetime.”

the report also reveals that the number of cigarettes smoked around the world has grown to more than 6 trillion. In 75 countries, smokers consumed an average of more than 20 cigarettes per day in 2012. The study was conducted by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, and published yesterday (January 8) in the Journal of the American Medical Association in a special issue devoted to tobacco.

In terms of number of cigarettes, which countries with populations greater than 1 million had the highest and lowest average consumption per smoker per day in 2012?



Mauritania 41

Chad 1

Eritrea 38

Burkina Faso 1

Rwanda 36

Guinea 1

Moldova 36

Uganda 2

Swaziland 35

Bangladesh 3

Saudi Arabia 35

Bolivia 3

Oman 33

Tajikistan 3

Taiwan 32

Peru 4

Panama 30

Sierra Leone 4

Yemen 30

Benin 4

Source: Smoking Prevalence and Cigarette Consumption in 187 Countries 

The study concludes that even as smoking prevalence – the percentage of the population that smokes every day – has decreased globally, the number of cigarette smokers worldwide has seen a surge due to population growth.

Research also reveals that the greatest health risks for both men and women are likely to occur in countries where smoking is pervasive and where smokers consume a large quantity of cigarettes. These countries include Kuwait, China, Ireland, Italy, Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Uruguay, Switzerland, and several countries in Eastern Europe.

Which countries had the highest and lowest smoking prevalence for men in 2012?



Timor-Leste 61.1%

Antigua and Barbuda 5%

Indonesia 57%

Sao Tome and Principe 7%

Kiribati 54.4%

Nigeria 7.5%

Armenia 51.7%

Ethiopia 7.7%

Papua New Guinea 51.4%

Ghana 8.2%

Laos 51.3%

Sudan 8.2%

Russia 51%

Dominica 8.4%

Cyprus 48%

Niger 8.8%

Macedonia 46.5%

Suriname 9.8%

Tonga 46.4%

Ecuador 10.3%

Source: Smoking Prevalence and Cigarette Consumption in 187 Countries 

According to the most recent figures from the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) study, coordinated by IHME, tobacco led to 5.7 million deaths, 6.9 per cent of years of life lost, and 5.5 per cent of total health loss around the world. These estimates exclude the health effects from second-hand smoke.


Interestingly, while smoking prevalence is higher in men than woman across the world, one country stands out where the ratios are inverted – data from Sweden shows that more smokers in the country were women than men.
Which countries had the highest and lowest smoking prevalence for women in 2012?



Greece 34.7%

Eritrea 0.6%

Bulgaria 31.5%

Cameroon 0.6%

Kiribati 31.3%

Morocco 0.7%

Austria 28.3%

Gambia 0.8%

France 27.7%

Libya 0.9%

Macedonia 26.7%

Oman 0.9%

Belgium 26.1%

Algeria 0.9%

Chile 26%

Azerbaijan 0.9%

Hungary 25.8%

Ethiopia 1.0%

Andorra 25.2%

Sudan 1.0%

Source: Smoking Prevalence and Cigarette Consumption in 187 Countries

Other stats reveal that substantial population growth between 1980 and 2012 contributed to a 41 per cent increase in the number of male daily smokers and a 7 per cent increase for females. More than 50 per cent of men smoke every day in several countries, including Russia, Indonesia, Armenia, and Timor Leste.


Smoking prevalence for women was above 25 per cent in Austria, Chile, and France and higher than 30 per cent in Greece, among the highest percentages in the world. The lowest smoking rates for men can be found in Antigua and Barbuda, Sao Tome and Principe, and Nigeria. For women, smoking rates are lowest in Eritrea, Cameroon, and Morocco.

Which countries where smoking prevalence was greater than 20% in 1980 had the fastest declines and the biggest annual increases between 1980 and 2012?



Iceland -3.0%

Lithuania 0.8%

Mexico -3.0%

Serbia 0.6%

Canada -3.0%

Bulgaria 0.5%

Sweden -2.4%

Croatia 0.5%

Norway -2.4%

Austria 0.5%

Denmark -2.3%

Tunisia 0.4%

United States -2.1%

Mongolia 0.3%

New Zealand -1.9%

Latvia 0.2%

Australia -1.9%

Portugal 0.1%

United Kingdom -1.8%

Macedonia 0.1%

Source: Smoking Prevalence and Cigarette Consumption in 187 Countries  

Overall, age-standardised smoking prevalence decreased by 42 per cent for women and 25 per cent for men between 1980 and 2012, the study found out. Notable mentions go to four countries – Canada, Iceland, Mexico, and Norway – which have reduced smoking by more than half in both men and women since 1980.

(Home page image courtesy Shutterstock)