WHO new report projected a decline in male tobacco users

Anju Bisht

, News

WHO projected a decline in the number of males using tobacco for the first time, indicating a powerful shift in the global tobacco epidemic. WHO reports showed how government-led action can protect society from tobacco, save lives and prevent people from suffering tobacco-related harm.


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Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General said, “Declines in tobacco use amongst males mark a turning point in the fight against tobacco. For many years now we had witnessed a steady rise in the number of males using deadly tobacco products. But now, for the first time, we are seeing a decline in male use, driven by governments being tougher on the tobacco industry. WHO will continue working closely with countries to maintain this downward trend.”


From the past 2 decades, 1.397 billion in 2000 to 1.337 billion in 2018 an overall global tobacco use has fallen or by approximately 60 million people, according to the WHO global report on trends in the prevalence of tobacco use 2000-2025 third edition.


Interestingly, the number of male tobacco users has stopped growing and is projected to decline by more than 1 million fewer male users by 2020 (or 1.091 billion) compared to 2018 levels and 5 million less by 2025 (1.087 billion).


WHO estimates 10 million fewer tobacco users by 2020, both male and female compared to 2018 and another 27 million less by 2025, amounting to 1.299 billion. About 60% of countries have been experiencing a decline in tobacco use since 2010.


Dr. Ruediger Krech, Director of Health Promotion at WHO said, “Reductions in global tobacco use demonstrate that when governments introduce and strengthen their comprehensive evidence-based actions, they can protect the well-being of their citizens and communities.”


Regardless of such gain, the progress in meeting the global target to cut down the use of tobacco by 30% by 2025 remains off track. A 23% reduction is estimated by 2025 considering current progress.


“Fewer people are using tobacco, which is a major step for global public health,” said Dr. Prasad. “But the work is not yet done. Without stepped-up national action, the projected fall in tobacco use still won’t meet global reduction targets. We must never let up in the fight against Big Tobacco.”


Other key findings of the report included:


  • Approx 43 million children used tobacco in 2018 of age 13-14 years (14 million girls and 29 million boys).
  • About 244 million of women used tobacco in 2018. By 2025 the estimates are fewer than 32 million women to use tobacco.
  • Southeast Asian region has the highest rates of tobacco use, of more than 45% of males and females aged 15 years and over.
  • More countries are implementing effective tobacco control measures, which are having the desired effect of reducing tobacco use. Policy actions such as tobacco taxes not only help reduce tobacco consumption and health-care costs but also represent a rev­enue stream for financing for development in many countries.


Approximately, every year more than 8 million people die due to tobacco use which is half of its users. Where more than 7 million deaths are due to direct tobacco use while 1.2 million are due to non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke. The occurrence of death due to tobacco use is more prominent in low- and middle-income countries, as these areas are the targets of intensive tobacco industry interference and marketing.


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