Fact sheets

Smoking Statistics

28 May 2002

  • About a third of the male adult global population smokes.
  • Smoking related-diseases kill one in 10 adults globally, or cause four million deaths. By 2030, if current trends continue, smoking will kill one in six people.
  • Every eight seconds, someone dies from tobacco use.
  • Smoking is on the rise in the developing world but falling in developed nations. Among Americans, smoking rates shrunk by nearly half in three decades (from the mid-1960s to mid-1990s), falling to 23% of adults by 1997. In the developing world, tobacco consumption is rising by 3.4% per year.
  • About 15 billion cigarettes are sold daily - or 10 million every minute.
  • About 12 times more British people have died from smoking than from World War II.
  • Cigarettes cause more than one in five American deaths.
  • Among WHO Regions, the Western Pacific Region* - which covers East Asia and the Pacific - has the highest smoking rate, with nearly two-thirds of men smoking.
  • About one in three cigarettes are consumed in the Western Pacific Region.
  • The tobacco market is controlled by just a few corporations - namely American, British and Japanese multinational conglomerates.
  • Among young teens (aged 13 to 15), about one in five smokes worldwide.
  • Between 80,000 and 100,000 children worldwide start smoking every day - roughly half of whom live in Asia.
  • Evidence shows that around 50% of those who start smoking in adolescent years go on to smoke for 15 to 20 years.
  • Peer-reviewed studies show teenagers are heavily influenced by tobacco advertising.
  • About a quarter of youth alive in the Western Pacific Region will die from smoking.
  • Half of long-term smokers will die from tobacco. Every cigarette smoked cuts at least five minutes of life on average - about the time taken to smoke it.
  • Smoking is the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death. It is a prime factor in heart disease, stroke and chronic lung disease. It can cause cancer of the lungs, larynx, oesophagus, mouth, and bladder, and contributes to cancer of the cervix, pancreas, and kidneys.
  • More than 4,000 toxic or carcinogenic chemicals have been found in tobacco smoke.
  • One British survey found that nearly 99% of women did not know of the link between smoking and cervical cancer.
  • One survey found that 60% of Chinese adults did not know that smoking can cause lung cancer while 96% were unaware it can cause heart disease.
  • At least a quarter of all deaths from heart diseases and about three-quarters of world's chronic bronchitis are related to smoking.
  • Smoking-related diseases cost the United States more than $150 billion a year.
  • US-based multinational Philip Morris - the world's biggest cigarette company - was the world's ninth largest advertiser in 1996, spending more than $3 billion.
  • A survey a few years ago found that nearly 80% of American advertising executives from top agencies believed cigarette advertising does make smoking more appealing or socially acceptable to children.
  • Through advertising, tobacco firms try to link smoking with athletic prowess, sexual attractiveness, success, adult sophistication, adventure and self-fulfilment.
  • A survey in the UK found about half of smokers think that smoking "can't really be all that dangerous, or the Government wouldn't let cigarettes be advertised".
  • A 1998 survey found that tobacco companies were among the top 10 advertisers in 18 out of 66 countries surveyed.
  • In Asia, tobacco companies are among the top 10 advertisers in Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar and the Philippines.
  • In Russia, according to press reports, foreign tobacco companies are the largest advertisers, accounting for as much as 40% of all TV and radio advertising.
  • In 1997, the tobacco industry's spending on advertising in the United States was about $15 million a day ($5.7 billion for the year).
  • The tobacco industry has changed the way it advertises in the last 30 years. Now, only 10% of advertising expenditure goes to print and outdoor advertisements, while more than half goes to promotional allowances and items, such as t-shirts for young people or lighters and key rings.
  • After the entry of foreign multinational tobacco firms into Japan, the Republic of Korea and Thailand, youth and female smoking rose significantly.
  • Studies show that about 67% of men smoke in urban areas (Phnom Penh), while in rural areas, where most people live, about 86% of men smoke.
  • Men's smoking prevalence seems to peak among older men, (50 to 70 years). Some older men began smoking during Pol Pot's regime in the late 1970s, because smokers were given 10-minute breaks every hour from hard labour by the Khmer Rouge.
  • Smoking prevalence among monks is high, particularly in rural areas.
  • Tobacco companies are major advertisers, accounting for 13% of all advertising in 2000. In 1997, half of all street advertising was for tobacco products.
  • Street advertising of cigarettes rose by 400% between 1994 and 1997.
  • In 1997, it was estimated that cigarettes comprised 30% of all imported goods.
  • Support for tobacco control is high. A 1997 survey in Phnom Penh found about 80% of respondents believed the government should ban cigarette advertisements.
  • The toll from smoking is hard to estimate due to inadequate data, but a 1997 (WHO/MOH) study estimated that 6,000 Cambodians die annually from smoking.
  • About 67% of men smoke, and 4% of women.
  • Among youths, about a third of male teens smoke and nearly 8% of females.
  • One of every three cigarettes consumed worldwide is smoked in China.
  • Smoking will kill about a third of all young Chinese men alive (under 30 years).
  • About 3,000 people die every day in China due to smoking.
  • There are more than 300 million Chinese smokers - more than the entire US population. They consume an estimated 1.7 trillion cigarettes per year - or 3 million cigarettes every minute.
  • China is the world's largest tobacco producer, accounting for about a quarter of the global tobacco leaf production.
  • China used to be closed to tobacco multinationals. But in the last two decades, with the opening up of the Chinese economy, multinationals have been aggressively fighting for a piece of the Chinese market, seen as a "prize" market.
  • In 1990, 68% of male physicians were smokers and 65% of teachers.
  • Smoking contributes to four of the five leading causes of death in China today.
  • In 1993, WHO estimated that while China gained $5 billion in tobacco taxes, the country lost $7.8 billion in productivity and additional health care costs.
  • A study in Minhang district found smokers spent an average of 60% of their personal income and 17% of household income on cigarettes.
  • In Hong Kong, tobacco companies spent an estimated $63 million on all forms or advertising and promotion in 1995.
  • About 51% of men smoke in Japan - this figure has dropped from the 1980s, but it is still very high for a developed nation.
  • Prevalence of smoking among women, once considered almost taboo, has risen dramatically in the last decade to nearly 10%.
  • Japan's Finance Ministry is a major shareholder in Japan Tobacco, a multinational.
  • A survey in the early 1990s found that 44% of male physicians smoke in Japan.
  • With 500,000 cigarette vending machines, the young can easily buy cigarettes.
  • It's estimated that about one in eight deaths is due to smoking, (about 100,000 deaths a year). Smoking may also contribute to four of the five leading causes of death.
  • Lung cancer is the leading cancer, with more than 50,000 deaths a year.
  • More Japanese men die of lung cancer than suicide. The rate of lung cancer deaths is 46 per 100,000 people while the suicide rate is 30 per 100,000.
  • Japan has some of the weakest anti-tobacco laws for a developed nation, with few smoke-free public areas.
  • About half of all Malaysian men smoke.
  • Every day about 50 teenagers below the age of 18 start smoking
  • Studies show about 30% of adolescent boys (aged 12 to 18) smoke.
  • Smoking among female teens is rising. According to two studies on teens conducted in 1996 and 1999, the numbers of female teens smoking rose from 4.8% to 8%. Overall, the 1999 study found nearly one in five teens smokes.
  • Some studies have shown that lung cancer is rising at a rate of 17% a year.
  • Smoking is estimated to have caused more than half a million coronary events.
  • Smoking rates are highest in rural Kelantan and lowest in urban Penang and Sarawak.
  • Although there are restrictions on advertising, tobacco companies have found ways to bypass these laws through using brand names and remain the top advertisers. Heavily advertised products include the Benson and Hedges bistro, Dunhill accessories, Marlboro clothing, Kent Horizon Tours and Salem Cool Planet concerts.
  • Malaysia has been dubbed the "indirect advertising capital" of the world. Some of the tobacco industry's most blatant efforts to target young people can be seen here.
  • Spending on tobacco advertising is extremely high. In 1997, the industry spent about $90 million, while in the year 2000, two tobacco firms alone reportedly spent more than US$40 million.
  • At least two tobacco companies were among the top 10 advertisers in recent years.
  • About 60% of men smoke.
  • A recent survey of Filipino adult smokers found 99.8% cited tobacco advertisements as one factor for initiating smoking.
  • More than half of Filipino households are not smoke-free.
  • As many as 40% of adolescents boys smoke; most began in their early teens. Another 6% were former smokers. The majority of these young smokers said peer pressure was one reason why they took up smoking. Most now wish they did not smoke and about two-thirds have tried to give up.
  • There are no national laws prohibiting minors from buying cigarettes.
  • About 200,000 Filipino men will develop smoking-related diseases in their productive years of age. It was estimated in 1999, that to provide healthcare for these sick men, and the loss in productivity, cost Filipino taxpayers some P43 billion.
  • Every year, there are about 20,000 smoking-related deaths in the country.
  • Tobacco use will drain nearly 20% of the household income of smokers' families.
  • Many vendors of cigarettes are children.
  • In 2000, about 67% of Korean men smoked, while among adult women the figure has nearly doubled, from 3.9% in 1989 to 6.7% in 1997.
  • A recent Gallup survey found that by the end of 2002, the number of male smokers will have dropped by a stunning 21% since May 2001.
  • Cigarettes were first introduced to the Republic of Korea in the 1930s. In the late 1980s, the country opened its market to foreign tobacco firms. Cigarette consumption rose dramatically alongside increased advertising.
  • In a single year after the ban against American tobacco was lifted, smoking among Korean teenagers rose from 18% to 30%; among female teens it rose about five-fold, from 1.6% to 8.7%.
  • Foreign cigarettes now control 25% of the market.
  • The Republic of Korea is the eighth largest cigarette market in the world, with an annual volume of 100 billion cigarettes, according to industry data.

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