The number of smokers worldwide tends to fall, according to the WHO

The number of smokers worldwide tends to fall, according to the WHO

Some (rather) optimistic news: the number of adults who use tobacco worldwide has steadily declined in recent years, according to the World Health Organization. In 2022, around one in five adults in the world smoked or consumed tobacco derivatives, compared to one in three at the turn of the millennium, the organization recalled this Tuesday in a new report. In total, 150 countries have successfully reduced their tobacco consumption.

But although smoking rates are falling in most countries, the WHO has warned that tobacco-related deaths are expected to remain high in the years to come. Its statistics show that smoking kills more than eight million people each year, including around 1.3 million non-smokers exposed to second-hand smoke. The lag time between the implementation of strict anti-tobacco measures and the reduction in the number of deaths is around thirty years, underlines the report.

A tobacco industry that does not disarm

And even if the number of smokers has continued to decrease, the WHO estimates that the objective of a 30% reduction in tobacco consumption between 2010 and 2025 cannot be achieved. Fifty-six countries should achieve this, including Brazil, which has already managed to reduce its tobacco consumption by 35% since 2010.

Six countries, on the other hand, have seen tobacco consumption increase since 2010: Congo, Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, Oman and Moldova. However, overall, the world is on track to reduce tobacco consumption by a quarter over the period 2010-2025, the report’s authors estimate. But the WHO warns that the tobacco industry has no intention of standing idly by.

Younger and younger smokers

“Notable progress has been made in tobacco control in recent years, but now is not the time to remain inactive,” warned Ruediger Krech, director of the health promotion department at WHO. “I am amazed at how far the tobacco industry is willing to go to make profits at the expense of countless lives,” he charged.

The WHO therefore calls for combating “interference by the tobacco industry”. And draws attention to new so-called smoke-free products and calls for collecting as much data as possible with regard to their success with adolescents. Thus, 10% of young people aged 13 to 15 around the world consume one or more types of tobacco.

This represents at least 37 million adolescent tobacco users, including at least 12 million who use these new products. These figures are largely underestimated since more than 70 countries provide no data. A worrying lack of information in the face of an industry that is trying to undermine public health efforts to deter young people.

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