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Top 20 Highest Tobacco Consumption Countries in the World

Highest Tobacco Consumption

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that there are approximately 1.3 billion tobacco users globally, with 80% of them residing in low- and middle-income countries. The primary mode of tobacco consumption worldwide is through cigarettes, which causes the deaths of over 8 million people annually. Consequently, tobacco consumption stands as one of the most significant epidemics worldwide. Each year, tobacco use directly leads to the demise of more than 7 million individuals, while an additional 1.2 million lose their lives due to exposure as second-hand smokers. According to the WHO, tobacco smoke contains around 4,000 chemicals, and no level of second-hand smoke exposure can be deemed safe.

Experts suggest that implementing taxes on tobacco products acts as a deterrent to its usage. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that a 10% price increase in tobacco leads to a 4% reduction in consumption in high-income countries and a 5% reduction in low and middle-income countries. In terms of the countries with the lowest smoking rates, Ghana, Nigeria, and Panama were identified as having the least percentage of adults who smoke as of 2020.

Conversely, Serbia has the highest smoking rate in Europe, with a country-wide rate of 39%. Bulgaria and Croatia also feature among the top 10 countries globally with the highest percentage of smokers. In 2020, approximately 22.3% of the global population used tobacco, with significant variations observed between genders. Specifically, 36.7% of men worldwide and 7.8% of women worldwide were tobacco consumers. The prevalence of female smoking rates varies greatly across countries due to socio-cultural values prevailing in different regions.

According to Grand View Research, the global tobacco industry is projected to grow from $867.6 billion in 2022 to $1.05 trillion by the end of the decade, with a compound annual growth rate of 2.4%. This growth is expected to be driven by an increased proportion of smokers globally.

Among the prominent tobacco companies globally are Philip Morris International Inc. (NYSE:PM), British American Tobacco p.l.c. (NYSE:BTI), Altria Group, Inc. (NYSE:MO), Japan Tobacco Inc. (2914.T), and Imperial Brands PLC (IMB.L). The largest publicly listed tobacco company worldwide is Philip Morris International Inc., headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut (NYSE:PM).

With a presence in over 180 countries, the company’s portfolio includes renowned brands such as Marlboro, L&M, and Chesterfield. In 2022 alone, the company shipped a staggering 621 billion cigarettes worldwide. Altria Group, Inc., based in Richmond, Virginia (NYSE:MO), is the second largest publicly listed tobacco company. It serves as the parent company of Phillip Morris USA and produces popular cigarette brands like Marlboro, Parliament, and Virginia Slims. For further information on other prominent companies in the industry, you can refer to the article “10 Best Tobacco and Cigarette Stocks To Buy.”

To compile our list of the top 20 countries with the highest tobacco consumption, we utilized tobacco consumption data by country from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN). Additionally, the percentage of adult smokers for each country was obtained from Our World in Data. The countries have been ranked in ascending order based on their annual tobacco consumption as of 2020.

Read More: World No Tobacco Day 2023

Top 20 Countries with the Highest Tobacco Consumption

1. China

  • Population: 1,471,286,870
  • Total Annual Tobacco Consumption: 2,054,035 tons
  • Tobacco Consumption Per Capita: 1.40 kg
  • Percentage of Adult Smokers: 25.6%

China consumes approximately 33% of all cigarettes worldwide, indicating a substantial share. Consequently, around 700 million individuals in China who do not smoke are subjected to second-hand smoke, including an alarming 180 million children.

2. India

  • Population: 1,380,004,390
  • Total Annual Tobacco Consumption: 566,948 tons
  • Tobacco Consumption Per Capita: 0.41 kg
  • Percentage of Adult Smokers: 27.2%

India is responsible for 70% of global tobacco consumption through smokeless forms. Each year, approximately 1.2 million people in India die from diseases related to smoking or exposure to second-hand smoke.  

3. Japan

  • Population: 126,476,460
  • Total Annual Tobacco Consumption: 334,339 tons
  • Tobacco Consumption Per Capita: 2.64 kg
  • Percentage of Adult Smokers: 20.1%

In Japan, the legal limit for purchasing and consuming tobacco products is 20 years old. The total number of cigarettes sold in the county has decreased from 348.3 billion in 1996 to 98.9 billion in 2020.

Read More: 20 Celebrities Who Quit Smoking Successfully

4. USA

  • Population: 331,002,650
  • Total Annual Tobacco Consumption: 237,079 tons
  • Tobacco Consumption Per Capita: 0.72 kg
  • Percentage of Adult Smokers: 23%

In 2020, the total annual tobacco consumption in the United States was estimated at 237,079 tons. In the United States, the minimum age for purchasing and consuming tobacco products is 21. This modification was implemented in December 2019 with the passage of the federal Tobacco 21 law.

5. Brazil

  • Population: 212,559,420
  • Total Annual Tobacco Consumption: 199,049 tons
  • Tobacco Consumption Per Capita: 0.94 kg
  • Percentage of Adult Smokers: 12.8%

In 2019, tobacco consumption resulted in the loss of 191,127 lives in Brazil, accounting for approximately 24.7% of all deaths in the country. Notably, 22.7% of smokers in Brazil reported experiencing significant depression, while 20.2% expressed feelings of mild depression. The healthcare expenses associated with smoking had a notable impact on the country, amounting to $8.9 billion (R$50.28 billion) or approximately 0.7% of the GDP.

6. Indonesia

  • Population: 273,523,610
  • Total Annual Tobacco Consumption: 192,905 tons
  • Tobacco Consumption Per Capita: 0.71 kg
  • Percentage of Adult Smokers: 37.6%

Indonesia has one of the highest rates of tobacco consumption in Southeast Asia. Approximately 45% of adults in the country are exposed to second-hand smoke in their workplaces, while 60% are exposed at home. In 2019, tobacco-related illnesses in Indonesia incurred a healthcare cost of $1.26 billion (IDR 18.9 trillion).

Among the prominent companies in the tobacco industry are Philip Morris International Inc. (NYSE:PM), British American Tobacco p.l.c. (NYSE:BTI), Altria Group, Inc. (NYSE:MO), Japan Tobacco Inc. (2914.T), and Imperial Brands PLC (IMB.L).

7. Pakistan

  • Population: 220,892,340
  • Total Annual Tobacco Consumption: 118,836 tons
  • Tobacco Consumption Per Capita: 0.54 kg
  • Percentage of Adult Smokers: 20.2%

With a smoking population exceeding 22 million adults, Pakistan ranks seventh among the top 20 countries with the highest tobacco consumption. Every year, approximately 110,000 individuals in Pakistan lose their lives as a result of tobacco-related illnesses.

8. Russia

  • Population: 145,934,460
  • Total Annual Tobacco Consumption: 107,499 tons
  • Tobacco Consumption Per Capita: 0.74 kg
  • Percentage of Adult Smokers: 26.8%

In 2019, Russia lost 317 000 lives due to tobacco use. In the United States, the number of male smokers has decreased from 30,5 million in 1990 to 26 million in 2019. During the same time period, the number of female smokers increased from 6.9 million to 9 million.

9. Mozambique

  • Population: 31,255,440
  • Total Annual Tobacco Consumption: 99,817 tons
  • Tobacco Consumption Per Capita: 3.19 kg
  • Percentage of Adult Smokers: 14.3%

Mozambique is well-known for producing flue-cured and burley tobacco, which is largely utilized in the production of cigarettes. As of 2020, the country was the world’s seventh-largest producer of tobacco. Tobacco is regarded as an essential component of Mozambique’s economy.

10. North Korea

  • Population: 25,778,820
  • Total Annual Tobacco Consumption: 89,726 tons
  • Tobacco Consumption Per Capita: 3.48 kg
  • Percentage of Adult Smokers: 17.4%

North Korea has a state-run tobacco sector, but no major global tobacco companies are present. The industry manufactures a variety of brands and cigarettes, with “Kumsong” being the most well-known local brand. North Korea also sells imported cigarettes from nations such as China and Russia.

11. Thailand

  • Population: 69,799,980
  • Total Annual Tobacco Consumption: 76,914 tons
  • Tobacco Consumption Per Capita: 1.10 kg
  • Percentage of Adult Smokers: 22.1%

Annually, Thailand experiences the loss of 50,000 lives as a consequence of tobacco-related illnesses, and its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) declines by 0.78% due to the effects of tobacco consumption. In the ranking of countries with the highest tobacco consumption, Thailand occupies the eleventh position.

12. Ukraine

  • Population: 43,733,760
  • Total Annual Tobacco Consumption: 73,261 tons
  • Tobacco Consumption Per Capita: 1.68 kg
  • Percentage of Adult Smokers: 25.8%

Despite the ongoing conflict with Russia, Ukraine has been actively engaged in efforts to control tobacco consumption. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that as a result of smoking cessation initiatives, 63.1% of smokers express their intention to quit smoking, while 16.4% acknowledge the importance of seeking professional assistance to overcome tobacco addiction.

13. Iran

  • Population: 83,992,950
  • Total Annual Tobacco Consumption: 71,060 tons
  • Tobacco Consumption Per Capita: 0.85 kg
  • Percentage of Adult Smokers: 13.6%

According to the Association of Tobacco Products Manufacturers and Exporters, Iran has a big problem with the tobacco industry because more than half of it is run by illegal companies. Since the beginning of 2022, cigarette prices in the Islamic Republic have gone up by 42%.

14. Iraq

  • Population: 34,499,620
  • Total Annual Tobacco Consumption: 68,865 tons
  • Tobacco Consumption Per Capita: 2 kg
  • Percentage of Adult Smokers: 18.5%

Every 20 minutes, a person in Iraq dies as a result of smoking-related ailments. Meanwhile, the average Iraqi smoker consumes 1,243 cigarettes per year. This equates to 3.40 cigarettes consumed each day. Tobacco is also commonly ingested through hookah, shisha, or water pipes. The country ranks fourteenth on our list of the top twenty countries with the highest tobacco consumption.

15. Türkiye

  • Population: 84,339,070
  • Total Annual Tobacco Consumption: 66,203 tons
  • Tobacco Consumption Per Capita: 0.78 kg
  • Percentage of Adult Smokers: 30.7%

Turkey is actively taking measures to discourage the illegal production and consumption of tobacco. The government’s estimates indicate that the state suffers a loss of $1.27 billion (TL 30 billion) in tax revenue as a result of the illicit trade of tobacco products.

16. Germany

  • Population: 83,783,940
  • Total Annual Tobacco Consumption: 66,104 tons
  • Tobacco Consumption Per Capita: 0.79 kg
  • Percentage of Adult Smokers: 22%

In 2022, Germany consumed 180 million cigarettes per day, an 8.6% year-over-year (YoY) decrease from 197 million in 2021. This demonstrates the German population’s decreased desire for cigarette consumption. The country is investigating the potential of regulating the appearance and design of e-cigarettes in order to discourage their usage.

17. Argentina

  • Population: 45,195,770
  • Total Annual Tobacco Consumption: 65,674 tons
  • Tobacco Consumption Per Capita: 1.45 kg
  • Percentage of Adult Smokers: 24.5%

Every year, over 45,000 people in Argentina die as a result of cardiovascular problems caused by tobacco use. Argentina’s Ministry of Health banned the import, distribution, and sale of electronic cigarettes and related accessories in March 2023. E-cigarettes, also known as “Heated Tobacco Products” (HTPs), are routinely used to inhale tobacco vapors.

18. Cambodia

  • Population: 16,718,970
  • Total Annual Tobacco Consumption: 63,658 tons
  • Tobacco Consumption Per Capita: 3.81 kg
  • Percentage of Adult Smokers: 21.1%

Cambodia faces an annual economic cost of around $227 million owing to healthcare expenses and productivity loss caused by tobacco smoking. Tobacco use claims 16,000 lives in the United States each year. There is a behavioral shift going place in the country right now, with 95% of respondents favoring a tax rise on cigarettes.

19. Spain

  • Population: 46,754,780
  • Total Annual Tobacco Consumption: 63,205 tons
  • Tobacco Consumption Per Capita: 1.35 kg
  • Percentage of Adult Smokers: 27.7%

In Spain, the age bracket of 25 to 44 years comprises 48.2% of smokers, while the 16 to 24-year age group accounts for 41.7% of smokers. Within the younger age range, women have a higher prevalence of smoking compared to men. It is worth noting that the minimum age for purchasing tobacco in Spain is 18 years.

Also Read: How Can Refraining from Smoking Benefit an Individual’s Health?

20. Netherlands

  • Population: 17,134,870
  • Total Annual Tobacco Consumption: 60,093 tons
  • Tobacco Consumption Per Capita: 3.51 kg
  • Percentage of Adult Smokers: 22.2%

To discourage tobacco use, the Netherlands has implemented standardized packaging for tobacco products. This includes health warnings that occupy a substantial portion of the packaging. In addition to restrictions on the display of tobacco products in stores, advertising and promotion of tobacco products are strictly regulated. In the Netherlands, the legal limit to purchase and use tobacco products is 18 years.


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