What we know about the global drop in smoking

Almost every country on the planet reduced their tobacco consumption in 2020, according to the latest findings from the WHO.

Tobacco use is one of the leading causes of premature death worldwide, accounting for more than 8 million deaths and costing the global economy $ 1.4 trillion annually.

Smoking in particular is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, leading to nearly one in five deaths each year, according to the Centers for Disaster Control and Prevention (CDC).

In response to these risk factors, the global prevalence of smoking has steadily declined over the past two decades, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Last month, WHO published its latest findings in the fourth edition of its World report on smoking prevalence trends 2000-2025.

The report drew data from surveys from 165 countries to show that 22.3% of all people aged 15 and over used tobacco in 2020, up from 32.7% in 2001.

At least 150 countries are seeing tobacco consumption decrease and 60 of them are on track to meet WHO reduction targets Global Plan of Action for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases 2013-2020.

One of the main goals set in the action plan is to reduce the global prevalence of smoking by 30% by 2025 compared to 2010.

WHO Deputy Director-General for Universal Health Coverage Dr Naoko Yamamoto said the report “comes at a time when there is little good news in public health.”

“Despite the Covid-19 pandemic that has distracted attention, countries have continued the good work of tobacco control because its health and wellness benefits are immediate and clear,” Yamamoto said.

So what do we know about this decline so far?

READ MORE: New Zealand to ban youth from buying cigarettes for life

There is a huge gender and age gap among consumers

The use of tobacco has been nicknamed “the male vice” by Statistics, and they are not wrong.

Men use tobacco almost five times more than women worldwide, according to WHO estimates.

The prevalence among women aged 15 and older was 7.8% in 2020, compared to 36.7% among men of the same age group.

In 2000, one in four tobacco users worldwide was female, and by 2025 the ratio is expected to be one in six.

The gender difference is greatest in the Western Pacific region, where one in 18 tobacco users is female, compared to the Americas and Europe, where one in three tobacco users is female.

However, for both sexes, there was a steady decline in tobacco use in each age group from 2000 to 2020.

Among age groups, tobacco consumption is higher in older groups. The WHO reported that 28.5% of 45 to 54 year olds worldwide used tobacco in 2020, compared to 14.2% of 15 to 24 year olds.

Rates of tobacco use peak in the 45-54 age group for men, and for women they peak in the 55-64 age group.

READ MORE: Why are more men than women dying from coronavirus?

3/4 of the world acts effectively

The Southeast Asian region has the highest average smoking rate, at around 29 percent in 2020, up from 50 percent in 2000. Meanwhile, the African region has the lowest rates, at about 10 percent in 2020, up from 18 percent in 2000..

Despite their differences, each region is doing its part to reduce tobacco use.

Earlier this year, the WHO released its eighth report on the “global tobacco epidemic” by 2021. The report tracks the progress countries have made in tobacco control since 2008

75 percent of countries in the world have at least one effective tobacco reduction measure in place by 2021. These measures protect 5.3 billion people, or 69 percent of the world’s population.

50 percent of countries have adopted two or more policies, and the number of countries adopting WHO measures continues to increase year on year.

The measures are part of a set of policies known as MPOWER, intended to help countries reduce demand for tobacco, as ratified by the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (CCSA).

In 2003, WHO Member States unanimously adopted the FCTC Treaty in response to the threat posed by tobacco use to public health.

“While pandemics caused by viruses are difficult to prevent, the stealthy and ever-growing pandemic caused by tobacco is totally and morally preventable,” CCSA Chief Executive Officer Dr Adriana Blanco Marquizo said in the 2021 report. .

Turkey and Brazil are the only two countries to have adopted all of the WHO’s best practice measures.

Five countries have four measures at the highest level (Jordan, Ireland, Madagascar, New Zealand and Spain) and 31 countries have three measures at the highest level of achievement.

While 49 countries have yet to adopt MPOWER measures at the highest level, 38 of them have policies in place that are only one level below best practice for one or more measures.

In 2021, seven countries that did not have good practice measures in place took measures to reach the highest level on one or more measures, according to the WHO.

These countries were the Cook Islands, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Iraq, Morocco, Paraguay and Tonga.

READ MORE: US plans to ban menthol cigarettes

Covid-19 may have helped the efforts

The deadly interaction between Covid-19 and smoking is undeniable, with strong evidence pointing to the higher risk of people who smoke of developing more complications from the disease.

Not only has Covid-19 put tobacco users at a higher health risk than non-smokers, it has disrupted global political agendas, to the detriment of tobacco control actions.

Surprisingly, however, the pandemic has also provided opportunities for advancing tobacco control measures.

To prevent the spread of the virus, several countries have banned tobacco consumption in public places and increased taxes to raise funds to fight the pandemic.

For example, 17 countries in the Eastern Mediterranean region alone have banned water pipes (shishas) in public places, and South Africa has temporarily halted tobacco sales as part of a response to the pandemic to ban “non-essential” products

“Despite the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, over the past year many countries have persisted in making tobacco control a key health priority,” said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

READ MORE: Is the coronavirus pandemic the best time to quit smoking?

ENDS can renormalize smoking

For the first time in history, the WHO report on the “Global Tobacco Epidemic” included data on electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS).

Electronic cigarettes, e-cigarettes, vapes, or vape pens are all some form of FIN.

The report found that a total of 111 countries regulate ENDS in one way or another, including 32 countries that completely ban its sale.

The other 79 countries have adopted one or more measures to regulate e-liquids, protecting 3.2 billion people from potential harm.

Although ENDS does not contain tobacco and may or may not contain nicotine depending on its type, they pose serious threats to the global fight against tobacco use and can have long-term health impacts.

More worryingly, the ENDS may renormalize smoking among younger generations, as the WHO report found that children and adolescents who use the products may double their risk of smoking cigarettes.

In the United States, high school students increased their use of e-cigarettes from 1.5% in 2011 to 19.6% in 2020, according to the WHO.

The devices come in thousands of flavors, with some candy flavors appealing to children and young adults. There are approximately 16,000 flavors available.

70% of today’s young Americans aged 12 to 17 say they use e-cigarettes “because they have flavors that I like.”

For these reasons and many more, the WHO declares that “ENDS should be strictly regulated for maximum protection of public health. “

“As cigarette sales have fallen, tobacco companies are aggressively marketing new products – like e-cigarettes – and lobbying governments to limit their regulation,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, Ambassador WHO Global Noncommunicable Diseases and Injury.

“Their goal is simple: to hook another generation on nicotine. We cannot let this happen. Bloomberg added.

READ MORE: England gives green light to prescription e-cigs for smokers

Source: TRT World


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