One-in-five (20%) adults in the world smoke tobacco.
But where in the world is smoking most common?
In the map below we see the share of adults, aged 15 years and older, who smoke tobacco. There are five countries where more than 40% of the population smoke. Three are Pacific islands and two are in the Balkans:
- Kiribati (47%);
- Montenegro (46%);
- Greece (43%);
- Timor (43%);
- Nauru (40%).
Indonesia; Russia; Bosnia and Herzegovina; and Serbia (39%), and Chile (38%) complete the top ten.
The places where many people smoke are clustered in two regions. South-East Asia and the Pacific islands and Europe – particularly the Balkan region – but also France (33%), Germany (31%), and Austria (30%).
In some countries very few people smoke: in Ethiopia, Ghana, Peru and Honduras less than 5% smoke. In Honduras, it’s every 50th person.
There are several factors which influence the prevalence of smoking. One is prosperity: if we look at the relationship between smoking prevalence and income we find that richer countries tend to smoke more. But as you see in this correlation there are very large differences at each level of income.
Smoking rates are high across many countries, but we know from experience that this can change quickly. Many of today’s high-income countries had much higher rates of smoking in the past, and have seen a dramatic reduction. In 2000, the UK had rates similar to Indonesia today – 38% of adults smoked. Since then, rates in the UK have fallen to 22%. The rise, peak, then decline of smoking is one we see across many countries.
The prevalence of smoking also differs significantly between men and women. Here we look at sex differences in smoking across the world.