Who smokes more, men or women?

Nearly one-in-four adults in the world smokes tobacco. More than one-third of men, but just over 8% of women do. How do sex differences in smoking vary across the world?

Nearly one-in-four adults in the world smokes tobacco. But there are large differences between men and women.

As the chart shows, more than one-third of men in the world smoke, while the same is true for less than one-in-ten women.

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In almost all countries, it is true that a large share of men smoke. In the visualization, we see the share of men who smoke (plotted on the vertical axis) compared with the same metric for women (plotted on the horizontal axis).

The gray line in the plot represents equality in the prevalence: countries where smoking is more common in men will lie above this line, and countries where more women smoke lie below.

We see that almost all countries lie above the grey line, meaning a higher share of men smoke. There are only a few exceptions.

In many countries — particularly across Asia and Africa — the differences are very large.

We also see this when we look at a global map of smoking among women: across much of Africa and Asia, rates are very low. For comparison, here is the world map of smoking rates in men.

The fact that men are more likely than women to smoke is reflected in health statistics, particularly lung cancer, for which smoking is a primary risk factor. We see that in nearly every country in the world, men are more likely to die from lung cancer.

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Our articles and data visualizations rely on work from many different people and organizations. When citing this article, please also cite the underlying data sources. This article can be cited as:

Hannah Ritchie (2019) - “Who smokes more, men or women?” Published online at Retrieved from: '' [Online Resource]

BibTeX citation

    author = {Hannah Ritchie},
    title = {Who smokes more, men or women?},
    journal = {Our World in Data},
    year = {2019},
    note = {}
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