Every minute 10 million smokers light a cigarette and 15 people die from smoking. The figures come on the occasion of tomorrow’s World No Tobacco Day as well as five statistics for those with the health-damaging habit.

How many smokers?

Of the 8 billion people on Earth, an estimated 1 billion are smokers, according to the World Health Organization and The Tobacco Atlas.

More than 5,000 billion cigarettes are consumed each year, according to The Tobacco Atlas, a smoking information center of the US non-governmental organization Vital Strategies and the University of Illinois at Chicago.

The number of smokers is decreasing for several years thanks to anti-smoking measures adopted by countries, such as increasing taxes, and the recent emergence of e-cigarettes.

In 2000 a third of the world’s population over 15 were smokers, compared to 20% now.

Where do they smoke more?

The largest number of smokers is in China: the country of 1.4 billion people has almost 300 million smokers, according to WHO data for 2020.

Indonesia also has a high number of male smokers: 62.7% of those over 15 smoke.

Smoking now mainly affects the poorest countries: 80% of smokers live in low- or middle-income countries.

In Africa and the Middle East, there is a small decrease in smokers, although some countries, such as Egypt and Iraq, are following the opposite path.

How many dead?

Smoking is the number one preventable cause of death: worldwide one person dies every four seconds because of smoking.

Active or passive smoking killed almost 9 million people in 2019, according to the “Global Burden of Disease” study published in 2021 in the scientific journal The Lancet.

Cancers – mainly of the lungs–, respiratory and cardiovascular problems are the main diseases associated with smoking.

In the 20th century, 100 million people died from smoking, according to research published in 2009 in the journal Nature, a number greater than the 60 to 80 million who died in World War II and the 18 million who died in World War I. War.

In the first half of the 21st century, 450 million people may die from smoking. At the same time, it costs society a lot: it absorbs 6% of global health costs, according to research coordinated by the WHO and published in 2018 in the journal Tobacco Control.

What are the effects on the planet?

Cigarettes damage not only the lungs and arteries of smokers, but also the planet: the production and consumption of tobacco causes the release of 84 million tons of carbon dioxide annually.

Nearly one million tons of goop are thrown away annually, along with their non-biodegradable acetate-containing filters. Growing tobacco requires 22 billion tons of water each year and the tobacco industry produces 25 million tons of solid waste.

A sector in decline?

On the contrary.

According to The Tobacco Atlas, in rich countries the tobacco industry is turning to other products, firstly e-cigarettes. In low- and middle-income countries, the big tobacco companies continue their “aggressive” policy and spend large sums to resist anti-smoking measures.

US economic analysis offices expect an annual growth of about 2.5% in the next five to eight years of the annual turnover of the sector, which in 2023 will reach 940 billion dollars.

For World No Tobacco Day, the WHO is calling on farmers to switch to edible crops to boost food security, noting that in Africa the land under tobacco cultivation has increased by almost 20% in 15 years.