Fewer Men Are Using Tobacco

The WHO study, which didn’t include e-cigarettes, cites a decline among smokeless tobacco users.

January 07, 2020

NEW YORK—Worldwide, the number of men using traditional tobacco products has started to decline, according to the Associated Press. Since four out of five tobacco users globally are men, the impact could be significant, according to Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, head of the World Health Organization.

A recent WHO report covers a wide range of tobacco use, including cigarettes, cigars and chewing tobacco, but it did not include electronic cigarettes as tobacco products. Currently, officials have not determined what impact vaping devices have had in diverting people from traditional smoking.

Previously, researchers reported declines in male and female smoking rates around the globe, but the numbers weren’t enough to offset the growth in world population. Although the number of female tobacco users has dropped since 2000, the number of male tobacco users had continued to increase, creating a population of 1.3 billion-plus users.

That changed last year, and WHO now estimates the number of male tobacco users will decline by more than one million this year and by five million by 2025. The agency said the decline is primarily caused by a decrease in the number of men who exclusively use smokeless tobacco.

The study also found that countries in Southeast Asia had the world’s highest rates of tobacco use: 45% among males and females age 15 and older. That percentage also is projected to decline.