The number of smokers has declined steadily in recent years but efforts to fight smoking must continue in the face of tobacco industry activism, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned.
In 2020, 1.3 billion people used tobacco worldwide, 20 million less than two years ago, according to a new report from the institution.
The decline is expected to continue until 2025, when about 1.27 billion tobacco users are expected, that is, approximately 20% of the world’s population over 15 years of age.
In 2000, that proportion was still almost a third.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus welcomed the decline, but warned that “there is a long way to go, and the tobacco industry will do whatever it takes to defend the huge profits it makes from the sale of its deadly product.”
According to WHO statistics, tobacco kills more than 8 million smokers each year and 1.2 million more people die from passive smoking.
On the other hand, the death toll will continue to rise despite a decrease in consumption “because tobacco kills slowly.”
The WHO is pleased that 60 countries are on track to reach the goal of a voluntary reduction in consumption of 30% between 2010 and 2025. It is almost double than two years ago.
“We are seeing great strides in many countries,” said Ruediger Krech, who heads WHO’s health promotion department, while stating that “this success is fragile.”
According to the report, with only $ 1.68 of investment per capita in accompanying measures for tobacco cessation, 152 million smokers could give up smoking between now and 2030.
Although the numbers – which do not include e-cigarettes, which have been very successful – are declining, the report notes that 36.7% of men and 7.8% of women in the world continued to use tobacco last year.
To this are added 38 million children between the ages of 13 and 15, that is, 10% of all adolescents in this age group.
In Europe, 18% of women continue to use tobacco, considerably more than in all other regions of the world, and “European women are reducing their use more slowly” than in the rest of the world.
The western Pacific region is projected to have the highest male consumption rate in 2025 (45%).