How Many People Smoke Cigarettes in 2024 (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. Yet, the world pandemic has brought in some changes.

The percentage of smokers in the world in 2019 was 19%, according to the latest available stats on smoking. One of the reasons for such a high number may be extremely low taxes on tobacco. In 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 2021

What Percentage of the Population Smokes Cigarettes?

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

  • Nauru
  • Kiribati
  • Myanmar
  • Chile
  • Lebanon
  • Mauritania
  • Serbia
  • Greece
  • Bangladesh
  • Bulgaria

Nauru is in first place with 52.1%. Kiribati follows, with 52%. Myanmar gets bronze with 45.5%. 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? 

Nauru and  Kiribati are small island countries in the Pacific, so even though over 50% of their citizens are addicted to nicotine, thousands can’t compare to millions. China has over 307.6 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 3.7% 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

In this respect, the biggest difference in the smoking ratio is in Indonesia. The Emerald of the Equator has 70.5% of male smokers, compared to only 5.3% of female smokers. Myanmar is a close second with 70.2% and 20.8%. 

Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Mauritius, Thailand, Malaysia, China, and Armenia have a similar ratio. 

In contrast, statistics on how many people smoke cigarettes show there are only four countries where female smokers dominate — Nauru, Sweden, Denmark, and Serbia. For example, in Nauru, 52.6% of smokers are female and 51.7% are male.

Danish female smokers are more numerous by a mere 0.3% (18.7% vs 18.4%%). 29.3% of smokers in Sweden are women, compared to 28.2% of men. Serbia also has a higher rate of female smokers, 41.2% vs 40%.

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. That said, many people smoke due to stress.

Who Smoked the First Cigarette?

Tobacco was often used in the past for chewing and smoking during religious and cultural events. Native American shamans used smoking rituals to communicate with the supernatural world.  

Tobacco started spreading throughout Europe in the 17th century, while in the 18th century it became an industry.

Smoking became very popular during the world wars. Cigarettes were given as gifts to soldiers to boost their morale. However, smoking lost its popularity later in the 20th century, given that people became more aware of its unhealthy effects on the body. 

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 49th, 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 criticized its addictive properties. 

There were about 42.4% of adult US smokers in 1965, but since then the percentage has plummeted to 25.1% (30.9% men and 19.3% of women).

How Many People Smoke Weed?

There are over 200 million weed smokers worldwide, according to the Cannabis Smoking Facts for 2019 from the World Drug Report.

While tobacco has become somewhat condemned, marijuana experienced the opposite. Its global consumption grew by 60% in the last decade, with smoking cannabis being the preferred method. 

CBD’s powers are certainly adding to its 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 22% of the population between 18 and 29 years old admits to using marijuana.  

Why Smoking Is Bad

We can’t have 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 cigarette’s characteristics.

The fact that you need combustion 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.

On the other hand, how many people smoke knowing the basic facts about nicotine? Probably too few. One of the most intriguing myths regards nicotine and cancer. Does nicotine cause cancer? No, it doesn’t! Large doses of nicotine are harmful, or even lethal, but not related to cancer.

How Many People Die From Smoking Worldwide? 

Over 8 million people die every year due to cigarette smoke, at least judging by WHO’s statistics. 1.2 million of those deaths are the consequence of exposure to second-hand smoke. 

Smoking cigarettes is said to kill over half of tobacco smokers. The stats also imply that 65,000 children die every year due to exposure to secondhand smoke. 

How many people die from smoking and second-hand smoking in the US?  Over 480,000 Americans die due to smoking every year, while secondhand smoke exposure is responsible for 41,000 deaths. 

As for the smoking prevalence by race, here are the figures:

  • Non-Hispanic American Indians/Alaska Natives make the highest prevalence of smokers in the US — 22.6%, followed by 
  • Non-Hispanic other races (19.1%), 
  • Non-Hispanic Whites (15%), 
  • Non-Hispanic Blacks (14.6%), 
  • Hispanics (9.8%), and 
  • Non-Hispanic Asians (7.1%).

Are Cigarettes Banned in Any Country?

Yes, at least during the COVID19 pandemic. Amidst the coronavirus outbreak, many countries banned tobacco. For example, tobacco imports and sales are banned in Botswana. The situation is similar in South Africa.

When it comes to Europe, the Spanish region, Galicia, also put a ban on smoking in public places, due to the pandemic, whereas France banned the online sale of nicotine products.

WHO claims that smokers are more vulnerable to getting infected with coronavirus, given that smoking involves contact with the lips. Furthermore, since smoking decreases the lungs’ capacity, smokers are at a higher risk of developing a respiratory infection (like COVID-19).

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.


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).

How many people smoke weed in the US?

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. 

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

Is cigarette smoking declining?

Yes, cigarette smoking is declining. It appears that all those bans and commercials have done their job, as the US is smoking about 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 from 2020 estimate that over 1 million people from the UK gave up cigarettes since the beginning of the pandemic. 41% of them did it as a response to COVID-19. 

A similar thing happened in the US, where there was a decline in vaping among adults. The number of vapers fell from 11.8 million to 9.8 million. 

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.

Is it OK to smoke 1 cigarette?

Sadly, it is not. Even one cigarette per day can cause you serious health issues. Inhaling cigarette smoke does the following:

  • Coughing (due to the nose irritation caused by smoke and chemicals) 
  • Your mouth will become dry and you’ll have a bad breath
  • The cigarette tar might cause discoloring of your lips, teeth, and gums.
  • After 20 minutes, the nicotine enters your bloodstream. This will result in higher blood pressure, smell reduction, and food craving.

What percentage of the population are smokers?

About 19% of adult people in the world are current tobacco smokers. Since the recent decrease in the percentage of active smokers, and due to the pandemic, it’s predicted that the number will keep on dropping. 

In fact, it’s estimated that by 2030, 17% of people worldwide will consume tobacco. 

What will lead to this decrease? The high cost of cigarettes and higher awareness among people. 

For example, in 2019, 76% of Brits were aware of the dangers of smoking, followed by 72% of South Africans, and 58% of Americans and Norwegians. These high levels of awareness will most certainly result in fewer smoking deaths per year worldwide

Why shouldn't you smoke before surgery?

There are many reasons. First of all, it can complicate the anesthesia. In other words, anesthesiologists will have a hard time keeping their patients breathing. They might even be forced to use bronchodilator medications.

Secondly, smokers have a higher risk of a post-surgery heart attack since tobacco damages their blood vessels and hearts. Moreover, it increases the risk of heart attack and heart failure.

And lastly, it takes more time for the wounds to heal.

What percentage of smokers die from smoking?

Based on the studies, about 67% of smokers die from smoking-related illnesses. That’s two-thirds of smokers. 

Smoking can increase the risk of developing cancer. Approximately 80% of lung cancers and lung cancer deaths occur due to smoking. In addition to that, smoking increases the risk of mouth cancer, throat cancer (Pharynx), kidney, cervix, liver, bladder, pancreas, stomach, and colon/rectum cancer.

How many smoking-related deaths occurred in the UK?

Statistics on deaths from smoking in 2020 statistics show about 74,600 Brits died due to smoking in 2019. What’s more, there were 506,100 hospital admissions associated with smoking. 21.07% of the admissions were related to respiratory diseases, circulatory diseases (13.63%), and cancers (8.93%). 

6.9 million adult Brits smoked cigarettes in 2019, which is 14.1% of the population. The prevalence was higher among men (15.9%) than women (12.5%). The highest number of smokers was noted among people aged 25-34 years — 19.0%.

The data on how many people smoke cigarettes also shows us a decrease in the number of UK smokers of 0.6% compared to 2018. 

7 thoughts on “How Many People Smoke Cigarettes in 2024 (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.

  3. i started puffing while in the military, and quit at about ae 35. The reason I quit I developed a winter cold and a summer cold, coughed a lot all the time. In about 2 weeks i felt a lot better, 2 weeks turned into two months, the desire mostly left me. Have not had a smoke since then (i’m78 now), and still proud of myself
    I knew it was not good for me, but did not know how bad it was. folks don’t give up trying to quit, it takes a while
    when i think back, I feel like a recovered alcoholic.

    1. Thank you very much for your comment! Indeed, people take nicotine addiction lightly, even though it is highly addictive.

  4. Smokers will do anything to get that next cigarette. In airports smokers are sequestered behind glass panels for all to see. They look to me like a pack of wild animals sucking away as fast as they can.
    I have many friends, but only 1 smokes. It seems as though smokers have become an endangered species, but according to the figures , in the US, 35% of the population still smoke.

  5. Second hand smoke casualties were always fabricated. I worked in this field 30 years. No conclusive research validated the paranoia and hatred of smoking, which remains another way to feel morally superior to people who smoke. The smoking was never as offensive as the smoker, the essence of selfish inconsiderate rude polluter of the clean air we supposedly breath. What nonsense. I suppose drug addiction, mass neurosis and crime are better anxiolytics.

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