How Many People Smoke Cigarettes in 2020 (Infographic)

How Many People Smoke Cigarettes

Smoker or non-smoker, you must’ve wondered how many people smoke cigarettes at some point. An addictive habit that has been banned from advertisements, big and TV screens, smoking cigarettes is still going strong despite all the endeavors and gore “SMOKING KILLS” imagery on cigarette packs.

As a matter of fact, it all started in the 19th century with the production of cigarettes, the most convenient way of smoking tobacco. From then on, the market simply exploded, and this led to the situation we have today.

How many people smoke nowadays? The answer is “too many,” which in figures translates as 1.1 billion, according to the latest available smoking statistics. One of the reasons for such a high number may be extremely low taxes on tobacco. As a matter of fact, high tobacco taxes affect only 14% of the global population.

At the moment, the situation with cigarette smoking looks like this. Do you see your country? How does it fare?

How Many People Smoke Cigarettes - Infographic

What Percentage of the Population Smokes Cigarettes?

Let’s take a closer look at our map. Basically,  the top ten looks like this:

  • Kiribati
  • Nauru
  • Greece
  • Serbia
  • Russia
  • Jordan
  • Indonesia
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Lebanon
  • Chile

Kiribati is in first place with 52.4%. Nauru follows, with 47.5%. Greece gets the bronze with 42.6%. Generally, countries with low and middle incomes tend to dominate. However, bear in mind that these are estimates based on the percentage of smokers per country, not the number of people.

What country has the most smokers? Kiribati and Nauru are small island countries in the Pacific, so even though almost 60% of their citizens are addicted to nicotine, thousands can’t compare to millions. China has over 300 million smokers (!). That explains why China is responsible for smoking 40% of all cigarettes in the world.

On the other hand, Ethiopia is in the last place with only 4.7% of its population being nicotine addicts.

Regardless of the number of smokers per country, there is usually a sharp discrepancy in the male-female ratio. Smoking statistics worldwide show obvious male domination when it comes to tobacco use. The biggest difference in the smoking ratio is in Egypt. The land of the pyramids has nearly 50% of male smokers, compared to only 0.3% of female smokers. Lesotho is a close second with over 55% and 0.4%. Azerbaijan, China, Vietnam, Georgia, Indonesia, and Russia have a similar ratio too.

In contrast, statistics on how many people smoke cigarettes show there are only three countries where female smokers dominate: Nauru, Greece, and Sweden. 52% vs 43% in favor of Nauru women. Greek ladies lead by 7.1% whereas Swedish female smokers are more numerous by a mere 0.4%.

Why Do People Smoke?

There isn’t a universal answer, but it’s very clear why they can’t quit easily. Research studying how many people smoke in the world give out warnings about nicotine all the time, but hardly anyone knows it is as addictive as heroin, based on some estimates.

Namely, nicotine is responsible for messing with the balance of dopamine and noradrenaline, two chemicals in the brain. These regulate our mood and concentration, and apparently, people like the imbalance. It is achieved within seconds the smoker takes a puff.

The more a person smokes, the more they get used to it and ask for an extra dose.

How Many People Smoke in the US?

34. 2 million adult Americans smoke cigarettes, while 49.1 million use some kind of a tobacco product. The US hasn’t got a bad position after all—it ranks 87th, which is quite praise-worthy.

Until the 1960s, US citizens were very fond of smoking. The exact moment when its popularity started to decline was 1964 when the United States Surgeon General’s Reports were published, which connected tobacco with cancer and clearly criticized its addictive properties. There were about 42% of adult US smokers in 1965, but since then the percentage has plummeted to 17.2% (19.5% men and 15% of women).

How Many People Smoke Weed?

Cannabis smoking facts for 2019 from the World Drug Report report there are over 200 million weed smokers around the world.

While tobacco has become somewhat condemned, marijuana experienced the opposite. Its consumption grew by 60% in the last decade, with smoking cannabis being the preferred method. CBD’s powers are certainly adding to the popularity, and overall, marijuana is praised for its beneficial effects on our health (THC included).

In the future, asking for “how many people smoke tobacco” may evolve to “how many people smoke marijuana,” especially in the US, where 16.2% of the population between 15 and 64 years old admits to using marijuana. That’s just 1% less than tobacco smokers.

Why Smoking Is Bad

We can’t finish this article without mentioning the side effects of smoking. There are 93 harmful chemicals in cigarettes. That’s in tobacco itself. Contrary to popular belief, the bad chemicals are released mostly from tobacco smoke, not the ingredients added to enhance the characteristics of the cigarette.

The fact that you need combustion to light a cigarette is very unfortunate, as it is directly connected to lung cancer. Admittedly, vaping issues have been making headlines, too, but it should prove to be a safer option.

Does nicotine cause cancer? No, it does not. Large doses of nicotine are harmful, or even lethal, but not related to cancer.

How many people die from smoking and second-hand smoking? Chances are you are already dying slowly inside, at least judging by WHO’s statistics. Over 8 million people die every year due to cigarette smoke. 1.2 million of those deaths are the consequence of exposure to second-hand smoke. Smoking cigarettes is said to kill over half of the tobacco smokers.

Final Puff

How many people in the US smoke is not that worrying compared to the rest of the world. 34.3 million adult smokers is a big figure, but the awareness about its dangers seems to be getting higher every year. In case that the cannabis legalization efforts pay off and it is finally taken off the drugs’ list, we can vouch for a number of tobacco smokers to turn to a much healthier alternative.

On the other hand, middle and low-income countries still have a long way to go. Keeping track of how many people smoke cigarettes should be understood as a priority of healthcare providers and governments worldwide. The effects of smoking cigarettes are deadly, and they damage the economy too as the money wasted on the nicotine addiction could be invested elsewhere.


How many people smoke weed in the US?

According to Statista, 22% of young Americans (aged 18-29) enjoy smoking cannabis regularly. 30 to 49-year-olds and 50 to 64-year-olds smoke about half as much — 11% and 12%, respectively.

Seniors over 65 years old mostly use cannabis for health-related issues, and only 3% light up a joint or two.

What country smokes the most weed?

That would be Nigeria. 19.4% of Nigerians love cannabis and use it passionately, though the plant is illegal in the country! True enough, the data does not strictly refer to smoking weed, but as it is the most common and convenient method, we dare to make the estimate.

To this end, Canada (15.8%), the US (15%), Zambia (14.8%), and Bermuda (14.3% follow).

Is cigarette smoking declining?

It appears that all those bans and commercials have done their job, as the US is smoking two thirds less tobacco than it did 50 years ago. Moreover, 70% of smokers would like to kick the habit.

On the global level, the number of male smokers has declined for the first time ever. The number of tobacco users worldwide plummeted by 60 million, which is considered a phenomenon — it has never happened before. Smoking statistics for 2020 predict there will be 10 million fewer tobacco users compared to 2018.

Was smoking popular in the 50s?

Yes, it certainly was. Smoking in the 1950s statistics estimate that about half of the industrialized nations smoked vigorously. In the UK, about 80% of the British were addicted to nicotine.

As for the US, the fact that lung cancer became the most common cancer diagnosed in American men in the early 50s says enough. As a matter of fact, the 1950s are the decade when the first serious research on lung cancer and smoking cigarettes started.

3 thoughts on “How Many People Smoke Cigarettes in 2020 (Infographic)

  1. I’ve been smoking for over 50 years and my lungs are clear and safe. Cdc reports every year how many people die from marijuana and they have consistently reported year after year decade after decade ZERO that’s a big fat 0 have died from smoking Marijuana.

  2. I’m irritated by articles like this. Us smokers (I vape now. But I was an avid smoker for years, off and on). This encourages people to publicly ridicule us smokers, publicly ‘encourage’ us to stop smoking ~in front of other people, in a group setting. This, to the point of making us have to hide our smoking.
    Yet smoking marijuana makes people fat & lazy. And the issue with lung and breathing probs apply to those who smoke marijuana. It’s not just a nicotine/tobacco issue.
    Also, people are so fat now (except in places like Ethiopia, where food is scarce) that the health risks of the unhealthy eating that leads to fatness is causing myriads of health issues ~many more health issues than smoking ever did.
    YET, we are shamed into not publicly ridiculing fat people or publicly ‘encouraging’ them to stop eating garbage food, especially in group settings.
    We’re told smoking is a choice and we should choose better. Scientists and nutritionists, for some reason, feel compelled to NOT say obesity is a choice ~though no one ever got fat from eating only a fresh-fruit/vegetable vegan diet.
    Fat people and potheads get to use the excuse ‘I eat/smoke marijuana when I’m stressed’ and other such nonsensical excuses that us smokers don’t get to use. When we do use those lame excuses, we get a response such as ‘exercise instead’, ‘read instead’, pray instead’, or even ‘eat instead’ ~even though this is what’s causing the obesity issue that’s having much more harmful effects on society.
    But you watch the kickback when one tells fat people to change habits. I get a crowd of people telling me it’s genetics (not that super-sized FatDonald’s meal that is regularly eaten), environmental factors (what the Hades thing in the environment is making people fat has yet to be answered), and on and on.
    I’m ranting on you because you’re just another person who’s condemning one unhealthy practice while in favour of another one. And in this stance, you’re giving gateway to people shaming tobacco users.
    OK, rant over.

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