GENEVA - The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported a decline in global tobacco consumption, with the number of tobacco users decreasing from 1.26 billion in 2020 to 1.24 billion in 2022. This trend aligns with ongoing efforts to combat the health risks associated with tobacco use, which remains a leading cause of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.
According to Philippines News Agency, this decline in tobacco usage is part of a broader public health initiative, highlighted annually on February 9, observed as World Stop Smoking Day. The day is dedicated to preventing smoking-related harm, reducing tobacco use, and enhancing social awareness of its dangers. Despite this positive trend, the WHO anticipates a further drop to 1.22 billion tobacco users by 2025, signaling ongoing global efforts to curb tobacco consumption.
The report identifies Southeast Asia as the region with the highest tobacco use, with 411 million users, followed by the Western Pacific at 370 million, Europe at 179 million, the Americas at 133 million, the Eastern Mediterranean at 92 million, and Africa at 60 million. Specifically, Trkiye, within the European region, has an adult smoking rate above 30%, placing it among the highest in Europe alongside 15 other countries.
The WHO's findings also reveal that about 224 million women were among the global tobacco-consuming population in 2022, highlighting the widespread nature of tobacco use across genders. The organization underscores the deadly impact of tobacco, attributing over 8 million deaths annually to its consumption, including those affected by secondhand smoke exposure.
A rising concern addressed by the WHO is the growing popularity of electronic cigarettes, which are available in nicotine and non-nicotine varieties. The appeal of these products, especially among younger demographics, is increased through the addition of various flavors, a strategy that experts warn may attract new users. The report stresses that electronic cigarettes, which produce smoke from heated liquid, pose significant health risks, despite their emerging as a popular alternative to traditional tobacco products.
Highlighting the regulatory challenges, the WHO points out that 88 countries lack a minimum legal age for purchasing electronic cigarettes, and 74 countries have no legal framework governing these products. The consumption of electronic cigarettes, which offer around 16,000 flavors, is rapidly increasing among children and young people, raising public health concerns about the next generation's susceptibility to nicotine addiction and its consequences.