WHO and NCI release monograph on tobacco- The Economics of Tobacco and Tobacco Control- Part 2: Patterns of Tobacco use

This is the second article in a series describing the recently released monograph entitled The Economics of Tobacco and Tobacco Control.

In this article, I will briefly describe the patterns of tobacco use, exposure and health consequences.

Key Messages:

Tobacco is the only legal product that kills a large proportion of its consumers when used as intended by its manufacturers.

Manufactured cigarettes are the most commonly used form of tobacco, accounting for 92.3% of tobacco product sales worldwide; as a consequence, cigarettes cause most global tobacco-related harm.

Analyzing global data for 2013 by sex, there were just over five times as many male smokers (938 million) as female smokers (175 million) (Table 2.2). The majority of male adult smokers lived in the WHO Regions of the Western Pacific (333 million) and South-East Asia (213 million), accounting for 58% of all male smokers in the world.

Of the 175 million female smokers age 15 years and over in 2013, the large majority (80 million, or 46%) lived in high-income OECD countries.


The data for 2013 indicate that nearly two-thirds of the world’s smokers lived in just 13 countries (Bangladesh, Brazil, People’s Republic of China, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Pakistan, Philippines, Russian Federation, Turkey, United States, and Viet Nam) (Table 2.3 and Figure 2.3).



These 13 countries accounted for a total of 736.3 million smokers (646.2 million males and 90.1 million females), with the remaining countries accounting for 376.9 million smokers.

As depicted in Table 2.4 and Figure 2.4, WHO estimated that in 2013, world prevalence of current tobacco smoking was 21.2% (35.8% for males and 6.6% for females).

The large majority of current tobacco smokers (83.0%) used tobacco daily; 83.9% of male current smokers and 77.8% of female current smokers were daily smokers.


In many countries, particularly low-income countries and lower middle-income countries, women’s smoking prevalence remains low, often because of socio-cultural and economic factors discouraging tobacco use among women. As these barriers fall, continued efforts will be required to ensure that women’s tobacco use does not rise.

About 7% of youth ages 13–15 worldwide smoke cigarettes, including about 9% of boys and 4.5% of girls.

An estimated 25 million youth currently smoke cigarettes. Although cigarette smoking rates are higher among boys than girls, the difference in smoking rates between boys and girls is narrower than that between men and women. Smoking rates among girls approach or even surpass rates among women in all world regions.


The number of smokeless tobacco users worldwide is estimated at 346 million, most of whom (86%) live in the South-East Asia Region.


Worldwide, an estimated 13 million youth and 346 million adults use smokeless tobacco products. Smokeless tobacco use may be undercounted globally due to scarcity of data.

Approximately 4% of youth ages 13–15 worldwide use smokeless tobacco; as with adults, most 13- to 15-year-old smokeless tobacco users live in the South-East Asia Region.


Secondhand smoke exposure remains a major problem. In most countries, an estimated 15%–50% of the population is exposed to secondhand smoke; in some countries secondhand smoke exposure affects as much as 70% of the population.

Annually, around 6 million people die from diseases caused by tobacco use (1% of global mortality), including about 600,000 from secondhand smoke exposure. The burden of disease from tobacco is increasingly concentrated in low- and middle-income countries.



Useful Links:

Link to the WHO news release:


Link to the Monograph (English) [PDF]:

Click to access m21_complete.pdf


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.