The most comprehensive data on global trends in smoking highlight its enormous global health toll. The number of smokers worldwide has increased to 1.1 billion in 2019, with tobacco smoking causing 7.7 million deaths – including 1 in 5 deaths in males worldwide, published in The Lancet recently.
Of particular concern are the persistently high rates of smoking among young people, with over half of countries worldwide showing no progress in reducing smoking among 15-24-year-olds. 89% of new smokers become addicted by age 25. Protecting young people from nicotine addiction during this critical window will be crucial to eliminate tobacco use among the next generation.
In half of countries, reductions in prevalence have not kept pace with population growth, and the number of current smokers has increased. The ten countries with the largest number of tobacco smokers in 2019, together comprising nearly two-thirds of the global tobacco smoking population, are China, India, Indonesia, the USA, Russia, Bangladesh, Japan, Turkey, Vietnam, and the Philippines.
Published ahead of World No Tobacco Day (31st May), the authors call on all countries to urgently adopt and enforce a comprehensive package of evidence-based policies to reduce the prevalence of tobacco use and prevent initiation, particularly among adolescents and young adults.