Tobacco use declining globally but set to miss targets

WHO

Despite a reduction globally, countries are set to miss the WHO global target of reducing tobacco use by 30% by 2025. In addition, in 5 years, the WHO European Region is expected to have the highest average smoking rate compared to other WHO regions.

These findings form part of the third edition of WHO’s report on global tobacco use trends, which reveals that global tobacco use has fallen by approximately 60 million people since 2000. The report highlights that male tobacco usage is no longer increasing, and for the first time is projected to decline by 1 million people in 2020, and by 5 million in 2025.

Despite this projected decline, tobacco use remains significantly higher among men than women.

The WHO Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases 2013–2020 includes a target for reducing the global prevalence of tobacco use (both smoked and smokeless tobacco) by 30% by the year 2025 relative to 2010.

European Region in focus

The global decline in tobacco use has mostly been driven by a reduction among women. However, women in the European Region are more likely to smoke than their counterparts in any other WHO region, suggesting a worrying trend. Furthermore, smoking rates among young women are higher than among their older relatives in many countries.

Only 6 countries in the European Region are expected to meet the 30% reduction target by 2025; however, according to the report, many countries have shown a decline in tobacco usage.

Increased efforts

The reduction in tobacco use demonstrates how government-led action to be tougher on the tobacco industry can help protect communities, save lives and prevent suffering from tobacco-related harm. This includes the implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), an international treaty developed in response to the globalization of the tobacco epidemic. The WHO FCTC entered into force in 2005.

To meet targets, all countries need to accelerate tobacco control by fully implementing the WHO FCTC. Only 2 countries have put in place all of the most effective measures to reduce the demand for tobacco, and significant gaps in monitoring remain in 45 countries worldwide.