Smoking Among Men

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Call To Action

All countries need to fund and implement more effective tobacco control policies to increase cessation and reduce initiation.

Percentage of adult males who smoke daily, age ≥ 15, 2013

Globally, nearly a third of men ages 15 years or older, or around 820 million people, are current smokers. In the last 30 years, the global age-standardized prevalence of daily smoking among men has decreased approximately 10%. However, the trend in smoking prevalence in men varies substantially worldwide, from a 24% decrease in Canada to a 16% increase in Kazakhstan from 1980 to 2013.

Although most of the countries with the greatest reductions in male smoking are high-income countries, smoking prevalence has also substantially decreased in many low- to middle-income countries (LMICs). However, many other LMICs have made only slight reductions or have even experienced an increase in their smoking prevalence. Most of these countries are located in Southern and Central Asia, Eastern Europe, and Africa. For example, with no reduction in smoking prevalence from 1980 to 2013, Indonesia has more than 50 million male daily smokers, and ranks third globally for the number of male smokers. If current tobacco trends continue, smoking prevalence in men and women combined in Africa will increase from 16% in 2010 to 22% in 2030, most of which is expected to be among men. Because the African population is growing much more rapidly than the rest of world, Africa will see a much higher number of male smokers in the future if no additional tobacco control policies are implemented.

China has one third of all male smokers worldwide. Although awareness about the importance of tobacco control appears to be increasing, and several tobacco control policies have recently been established in China, simulation models suggest that additional tobacco control programs could reduce smoking rates in China by more than 40% and potentially save more than 12.7 million lives by 2050. Countries with limited tobacco control policies could see comparable or even greater reductions in smoking prevalence if they were to establish more effective policies.

Regional Forecast

Combined male and female smokers by WHO region with current tobacco control policies, 2010–2100

The majority of the predicted increase in the AFRO region is attributed to men.

Successful Interventions: Uruguay has been quite successful in tobacco control. Adult male current smoking prevalence rates have declined from 39% to 31% in only six years (2003–2009). “What is happening today in Uruguay could happen to any country that implements very effective tobacco control measures.” -Dr. Eduardo Bianco, president of Uruguay’s leading tobacco control organization, CIET, 2010


Countries with 10,000,000 or more daily male
smokers: age ≥15, in millions, 2013

264.0 | CHINA
106.0 | INDIA
18.9 | JAPAN
14.2 | VIET NAM
12.2 | BRAZIL
10.6 | TURKEY
10.1 | EGYPT

Smoking Trends

Adult male age-standardized daily smoking prevalence in select middle-income countries (%),1980–2013


In these three different regions, neighboring countries had comparable male smoking prevalence in 1980 and diverged over time.

Since 1980, although smoking rates in men has not substantially changed in several Southeast Asian countries, THE RATES HAVE HALVED in Hong Kong (China), Japan, and Singapore.

“If we stop selling cigarettes here (in Indonesia) someone else is going to do it instead.” — Anne Edwards, Director External Communications, Philip Morris International, on Sex, Lies and Cigarettes, 2011

From 1996 to 2013, the number of countries with an adult male daily smoking prevalence of more than 40% has dropped from 49 to 31.

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