Cigarette Use Globally

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Call To Action

Our largest objective is to dramatically reduce the consumption of combustible cigarettes.

Number of cigarettes smoked per person per year: age ≥ 15, 2014

About 5.8 trillion (5,800,000,000,000) cigarettes were smoked worldwide in 2014, cigarette consumption is still on the rise. The significant reductions in smoking rates in the United Kingdom, Australia, Brazil, and other countries that implement increasingly tight tobacco control laws have been offset by the growing consumption in a single nation: China. The Chinese market now consumes more cigarettes than all other low- and middle-income countries combined.

Other regions are increasingly playing larger roles in the growing global smoking epidemic. The WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region (EMRO) now has the highest growth rate in the cigarette market, with more than a one-third increase in cigarette consumption since 2000. Due to its recent dynamic economic development and continued population growth, Africa presents the greatest risk in terms of future growth in tobacco use. Without appropriate prevention policies across the continent, Africa will lose hundreds of millions of lives in this century due to tobacco smoking.

Patterns of cigarette consumption vary widely within countries. Cigarette consumption displays large disparities and is associated with lower socioeconomic status, even in low- and middle-income countries. These inequalities can be reduced by the use of targeted tobacco control measures. For example, revenue from cigarette tax increases could be directed to fund tobacco prevention and cessation programs for disadvantaged groups.

Consumption of other combustible tobacco products is also on the rise. Since 2000, global consumption of cigarette-like cigarillos has more than doubled, while consumption of roll-your-own tobacco and pipe tobacco both increased by more than a third. This increase is partly because these other tobacco products are often taxed at lower rates than cigarettes and are, therefore, more affordable.

Consumption by Region

Global Cigarette Consumption by WHO Region, 1980–2013, in trillions

The disproportionate increase in the number of cigarettes smoked in China is a combined effect of China’s population growth and an increase in smoking intensity. In 2013, an average smoker in China smoked 22 cigarettes a day, nearly 50% more than in 1980.

“The underlying business continues to perform well […] Our growth strategy continues to deliver.” Nicandro Durante, CEO, British American Tobacco, 2013

Top 10 Consumers

Distribution of cigarette consumption: 2014

China and Eastern and Southern Europe consume the most cigarettes per person. This is not only because of the high smoking prevalence but also high smoking intensity – the large number of cigarettes smoked by average smoker per day.



Estimates are of legally sold machine-made and roll-your-own cigarette consumption.


Euromonitor International. Passport: Global Market Information Database. 2014. Proprietary Subscription-Based Data.

5.8 Trillion: Number of cigarettes smoked worldwide in 2014



Euromonitor International. Passport: Global Market Information Database [Internet]. Euromonitor International; 2014 [cited 2014 Apr 23]. 

“The market competes on addiction—the most addictive products win out. With research, they [firms], like the cigarette companies, may find out which of their ingredients is most effective in increasing sales/addiction. […]they are loath to give up these profit opportunities, no matter the costs to society.” Joseph E. Stiglitz, Recipient of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, 2008

Many of the nations which significantly reduced their smoking prevalence during the last decade, including Canada, Denmark, Iceland, New Zealand, and Uruguay, have seen that their remaining smokers are those who smoke the most cigarettes per day.

Increased tobacco control efforts must be targeted at those diehard users, who are often the most vulnerable members of society.

Smoking and wealth

Disparities in cigarette consumption in selected Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) countries by wealth group

Lower socioeconomic groups smoke more not only in high-income but also in low- and middle-income countries.

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