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December 21, 2019

Number of male tobacco users projected to decline

Islamabad

December 21, 2019

Islamabad:For the first time ever in the last two decades, the number of males using tobacco has globally registered a decline, reveals the World Health Organisation’s Global Report on Trends in Prevalence of Tobacco Use 2000-2025.

Released on Thursday, the findings of the report “indicate a powerful shift in the global tobacco epidemic. They demonstrate how government-led action can protect communities from tobacco, save lives, and prevent people suffering tobacco-related harm,” states a WHO press release.

During the past two decades, overall global tobacco use has fallen from 1.397 billion in 2000 to 1.337 billion in 2018, or by approximately 60 million people. This has been largely driven by reductions in the number of females using these products (346 million in 2000 down to 244 million in 2018, or a fall over around 100 million). Over the same period, male tobacco use had risen by around 40 million, from 1.050 billion in 2000 to 1.093 billion in 2018 (or 82% of the world’s current 1.337 billion tobacco users). But positively, the new report shows that the number of male tobacco users has stopped growing and is projected to decline by more than 1 million fewer male users come 2020 (or 1.091 billion) compared to 2018 levels, and 5 million less by 2025 (1.087 billion), the press release informs.

By 2020, WHO projects there will be 10 million fewer tobacco users, male and female, compared to 2018, and another 27 million less by 2025, amounting to 1.299 billion. Some 60% of countries have been experiencing a decline in tobacco use since 2010. Despite such gains, progress in meeting the global target set by governments to cut tobacco use by 30% by 2025 remains off track. Based on current progress, a 23% reduction will be achieved by 2025. Only 32 countries are currently on track to reach the 30% reduction target.

Other key findings of the report include the fact that 43 million children (aged 13-15) used tobacco in 2018 (14 million girls and 29 million boys). The number of women using tobacco in 2018 was 244 million. By 2025, there should be 32 million fewer women tobacco users. Most gains are being made in low- and middle-income countries. Europe is the region making slowest progress in reducing tobacco use among females.

According to the report, WHO’s South East Asian Region has the highest rates of tobacco use, of more than 45% of males and females aged 15 years and over, but the trend is projected to decline rapidly to similar levels seen in the European and Western Pacific regions of around 25% by 2025. The Western Pacific Region, including China, is projected to overtake South East Asia as the region with the highest average rate among men.

More and more countries are implementing effective tobacco control measures, which are having the desired effect of reducing tobacco use. Tobacco taxes not only help reduce tobacco consumption and healthcare costs, but also represent a rev­enue stream for financing for development in many countries, the press release adds.

Every year, more than 8 million people die from tobacco use, approximately half of its users. More than 7 million of those deaths are from direct tobacco use while around 1.2 million are due to non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke. Most tobacco-related deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, areas that are targets of intensive tobacco industry interference and marketing.

The WHO report covers use of cigarettes, pipes, cigars, waterpipes, smokeless tobacco products (like bidis, cheroots and kretek) and heated tobacco products. Electronic cigarettes are not covered.

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