Number of men smoking cigarettes falls for the first time in 18 years

Number of men smoking cigarettes FALLS for the first time in 20 years, reveals World Health Organization report

  • The report showed the number of male smokers peaked at 1.093billion 2018
  • But the projected figure for 2020 is 1.091bn – the first fall since at least 2000
  • Men make up 82% of all smokers people living in East Asia smoke the most 

The number of men smoking tobacco has fallen for the first time in at least 19 years, according to health experts.

Eight out of 10 smokers around the world are male – they make up 1.091billion of the 1.34bn total projected for 2020, along with just 235million women.

But a report covering data from 2000 to 2018 revealed the number of male tobacco users this year dropped for the first time.

It hit its peak at 1.093bn in 2018, the World Health Organization report revealed, and ongoing data predicts it will have dropped by two million next year.

The number of men smoking around the world rose from 1.05billion to 1.093bn between 2000 and 2018 but the figure has now started to fall for the first time, according to the World Health Organization (stock image)

The number of male smokers peaked at 1.093billion in 2018, the World Health Organization said, and its projections show the number should now continue to fall because of public health efforts

In the same time frame the total number of smokers fell by 60million. The report did not include smoking numbers nor increases or decreases from before 2000.

The statistics, which experts said ‘mark a turning point in the fight against tobacco’, include the use of tobacco in any way, including in pipes or smokeless products.

‘For many years now we had witnessed a steady rise in the number of males using deadly tobacco products,’ said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization.

Smoking rates in the UK are falling faster than they have in more than a decade, according to the Government.

Figures showed in September that 15 per cent of the population regularly smoked cigarettes at the end of July this year – down from 17.2 per cent in 2018.

This means 200 people have quit the deadly habit every hour in 2019, cutting the number of smokers from 7.8million to 6.8m in a year.

If the trend continues to the end of the year, it will be the biggest drop since 2008-2009 when it plummeted from 24.2 to 22 per cent. 

The figures were revealed by University College London’s Smoking Toolkit Study, which regularly surveys households around the country.

Its statistics for 2019 are based on 10,200 people, with a full year’s survey usually taking in more than 20,000.

‘We’re really excited about this data showing such a huge drop in the number of smokers so far in 2019,’ said the project leader, Professor Jamie Brown.

‘We’re at an all-time low for the number of smokers, but we want to see more people quitting.

‘There is nothing to be lost by trying to quit so I would advise every smoker to give it a go at least once a year.’ 

‘But now, for the first time, we are seeing a decline in male use, driven by governments being tougher on the tobacco industry.

‘WHO will continue working closely with countries to maintain this downward trend.’

Tobacco kills some eight million people around the world every year.

Seven million of those deaths are among people who smoke themselves, with another million caused by second-hand smoke.

Smoking produces toxic chemicals including arsenic, lead, formaldehyde and tar and is known to cause various types of cancer, heart disease, stroke, dementia and lung conditions including asthma and bronchitis.

About 34million people in the US smoke (14 per cent) as well as seven million people in the UK (15 per cent).

But South East Asia makes up the biggest numbers – some 45 per cent of people there are regular tobacco users.

Falling numbers of people using tobacco is driven mainly by women – female smoking dropped from 346m in 2000 to a projected 235m in 2020.

At the same time the number of male smokers rose from 1.05bn to 1.09bn – with the drop between 2018 and 2020 the only ray of hope.

Dr Vinayak Prasad, head of the WHO’s tobacco control unit, said: ‘Fewer people are using tobacco, which is a major step for global public health,

‘But the work is not yet done. Without stepped up national action, the projected fall in tobacco use still won’t meet global reduction targets.

‘We must never let up in the fight against Big Tobacco.’

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