Tobacco is the common name of several plants under the Nicotiana genus and is also the general term for any product made using cured tobacco leaves, such as cigarettes and cigars. Tobacco products are addictive and can be challenging to quit using due to the presence of the stimulant nicotine in the tobacco leaves.
According to the World Health Organization, tobacco kills more than 8 million people per year, including both smokers and non-smokers who experience second-hand smoke. The Center for Disease Control points out that tobacco is the leading cause of preventable disease, disability, and death in the United States.
Tobacco uses increases the likelihood of developing lung cancer, oral cancer, heart disease, and blood clots. Tobacco use also increases the risk of heart attack and stroke and leads to tooth and gum decay and wrinkled skin.
Tobacco prevalence is affected by several factors. Prosperity is the first of these. Wealthier countries tend to smoke more. Certain religions, such as Christianity and Judaism, are anti-tobacco. Additionally, in some cultures around the world, smoking is part of the social culture and is almost expected for males.
Overall, the highest smoking rates are found in Southeast Asia and the Balkan region of Europe. Western European countries and the Americas tend to have lower smoking rates, However, this is not always guaranteed, as Chile turns out to have one of the highest smoking rates in the world. Of the top five countries with the highest smoking rates in the world in 2018, three are in the Pacific Islands, one is in Southeast Asia, and one is in South America.
In many South and Southeast Asian countries, the smoking rate tends to be very high for men and very low for women. In Indonesia, for example, the male smoking rate is 76.20%, and the female smoking rate is 3.60%.
In general, smoking rates have decreased around the world due to increased education on the effects of tobacco and anti-tobacco campaigns. In 2000, the United Kingdom had a smoking rate of 38%. It has since dropped to 19.2%.
Nauru has the highest smoking rates in the world at 52.1%. Oddly, women smoke slightly more than men in Nauru (52.6% to 51.7%), which is somewhat of an outlier. The second-highest rate belongs to Kiribati, whose (52.0%) total consists of 68.6% of males and 35.5% of females, which is a more typical distribution.
The minimum smoking age in the United States is 21 years old. The smoking age was increased from 18 to 21 in December 2019. Smoking rates vary by state, with the highest prevalence of smokers in West Virginia and the lowest in Utah.
Here are the 10 countries with the highest smoking rates:
Nauru, a small island state in the Pacific Ocean, has the highest smoking rate in the world at 52.1%.