Current smoking trends suggest that the global total number of smokers will not show significant change over the next decade. Although smoker numbers are declining in many parts of the world, upward trends in African and Mediterranean countries cancel many of the gains, found a World Health Organization (WHO) analysis of smoking trends between 2000-2010 in more than 170 countries.
The WHO estimates that about 6 million people die around the world every year from smoking-related causes, more than 5 million from direct tobacco use and the rest from second-hand smoke. According to the WHO, one person dies about every 6 seconds due to tobacco, accounting for 1 in 10 adult deaths; and up to half of current users will eventually die of a tobacco-related disease.
The report revealed that about 80% of the world's one billion smokers live in low- and middle-income countries. Smoking prevalence among men fell in 72% of countries, while among women, a decline was observed in 88% of countries.
The document said that the WHO member states had agreed to a voluntary target of reducing tobacco use by 30% worldwide by 2025 from 2010 levels. However, on current trends, only 37 (21%) countries are on track to achieve their targets for men and 88 (49%) are on track for women.
The report said, "Rapid increases in Africa and the eastern Mediterranean would cancel many of the gains, and projections were for an estimated 1.1 billion current tobacco smokers in 2025. We project that the highest smoking quintile among men will shift from low-income and middle income countries in Europe and the western Pacific to those in Africa and the eastern Mediterranean."
The analysis did not consider smokeless tobacco use. It is published in The Lancet medical journal.