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25 Countries with the Most Cigarette Smokers per Capita

In this article, we are going to discuss the 25 countries with the most cigarette smokers per capita. You can skip our detailed analysis of the global tobacco market, the country with the least cigarette smokers in the world, and the rise of smokeless tobacco, and go directly to the 10 Countries with the Most Cigarette Smokers per Capita.

Tobacco was first used by the people of pre-Columbian Americas. Archeological studies suggest that the Maya people of Central America started using tobacco leaves as far back as the 1st century BC, mainly for smoking in sacred and religious ceremonies. By the time Columbus arrived in the New World in 1492, the Native Americans were already cultivating and smoking tobacco in pipes, cigars, and snuff. Although Cristopher Columbus brought with him a few tobacco leaves and seeds back to Europe, most Europeans didn't get their first taste of the plant until the mid-16th century, when adventurers and diplomats like France's Jean Nicot – for whom nicotine is named – began to popularize its use. Tobacco was introduced to France in 1556, Portugal in 1558, Spain in 1559, and finally England in 1565. By the early 17th century, smoking was common in all of Europe’s maritime nations, and their colonial empires soon carried tobacco all over the world.

Global Tobacco Market

As we mentioned in our article – 20 Countries that Export the Most Tobacco in the World – the global tobacco market is expected to reach $1.049 trillion by 2030, growing at a CAGR of 2.5% from 2024 to 2030. The market is fuelled by a growing demand from developing nations, coupled with the rising proliferation of next-generation products (NGPs) across the globe. The high marketing expenditure and discounting of products undertaken by major tobacco companies is also adding to the growth of the industry.

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While tobacco consumption is leveling off and even decreasing in some countries, the number of people smoking is still increasing globally, and smokers are smoking more than before. An estimated 1.3 billion people worldwide use tobacco products, 80% of whom are in low- and middle-income countries.

With an annual consumption of over 2 million tons, China is the Country with the Highest Tobacco Consumption in the world.

Country with the Least Cigarette Smokers

With a cigarette smoking prevalence of only 1.9%, Ghana is the Country with the Least Smokers in the world. The West African country has sustained significantly low levels of smoking despite an active tobacco industry presence for over 50 years, partially due to an early advertising ban and social stigma.

The Rise of Smokeless Tobacco

Traditional oral tobacco products are widely used in the U.S., consumed by an estimated 5.7 million adults in the country. However, contemporary oral tobacco products, like nicotine pouches, are becoming increasingly popular and fall under a brand new category that presents a safer alternative to more conventional oral consumables, such as snuff and snus. As a result, several key industry players are also making inroads into this category.

It was announced in 2022 that Philip Morris International Inc. (NYSE:PM) has completed its 100% takeover of the Stockholm-based nicotine pouch maker Swedish Match, in a deal that cost the tobacco giant around $16 billion. Swedish Match has made huge strides in its relentless pursuit of tobacco harm reduction through its range of smoke-free products, and its leading nicotine pouch product, ZYN, will bolster the Marlboro-maker’s growing smoke-free portfolio of heated tobacco products, e-vapor devices, and oral nicotine products. By 2025, Philip Morris International Inc. (NYSE:PM) aims to be a predominantly smoke-free company, with more than half of its total net revenues coming from its growing portfolio of smoke-free alternatives.

Philip Morris International Inc. (NYSE:PM) is counted among the Largest Tobacco Companies in the World by Market Cap.

Similarly, the Richmond-based Altria Group, Inc. (NYSE:MO) also entered the oral nicotine pouch market in 2019 when it acquired an 80% stake in the Swiss tobacco company Burger Söhne Holding AG for $372 million, and agreed to start distributing its On! brand in the U.S. Following the acquisition, the number of stores selling On! had already nearly doubled by the end of the following year, as the product was ‘attracting female tobacco consumers due to its spitless, white, and compact format’. As a result, Altria Group, Inc. (NYSE:MO) also acquired the remaining 20% of the On! global business it did not own for approximately $250 million in 2021.

Altria Group, Inc. (NYSE:MO) ranks among the Top 20 Most Valuable Tobacco Companies in the World.

With that said, here are the Largest Consumers of Cigarettes in the World.

25 Countries with the Most Cigarette Smokers per Capita
25 Countries with the Most Cigarette Smokers per Capita

Pixabay/Public Domain

Methodology

To collect data for this article, we have referred to the Global Health Observatory of the WHO, looking for the Countries with the Highest Cigarette Smoking Rates. The following countries have been ranked by their age-standardized estimates of cigarette smoking prevalence for both sexes in 2022. The countries that had the same prevalence of smoking cigarettes in 2022 were ranked by their figures in 2021.

By the way, Insider Monkey is an investing website that tracks the movements of corporate insiders and hedge funds. By using a similar consensus approach, we identify the best stock picks of more than 900 hedge funds investing in US stocks. The top 10 consensus stock picks of hedge funds outperformed the S&P 500 Index by more than 140 percentage points over the last 10 years (see the details here). Whether you are a beginner investor or professional one looking for the best stocks to buy, you can benefit from the wisdom of hedge funds and corporate insiders.

25. Lebanon

Prevalence of Cigarette Smoking in 2022: 26.8%

Smoking is simply a part of Lebanese life and other than cigarettes, Shisha cafes are also a common sight in the bustling streets of Beirut. Although the country’s law bans sales of tobacco products to those under 18 years old, it is poorly enforced.

24. Slovakia

Prevalence of Cigarette Smoking in 2022: 27%

Smoking is very widely tolerated by the Slovak society, and parents can often be seen smoking together with their children, or schoolteachers with their students. The capital city of Bratislava’s municipal waste management company has announced a new push to collect and reuse discarded cigarettes in 2024.

23. Tonga

Prevalence of Cigarette Smoking in 2022: 27.1%

Home to a little over 100,000 people, Tonga is a Polynesian country that lies to the south of Samoa, southeast of Fiji, and north east of New Zealand. Smoking is a very popular habit among the Tongan people and almost one in two men smoke, and it now seems to be increasing also among the young women of the society.

22. Latvia

Prevalence of Cigarette Smoking in 2022: 27.4%

Latvia is placed among countries with the highest rates of smoking, and as a result, the Latvian Parliament has recently passed laws to strengthen tobacco control, raise the minimum age for purchasing tobacco, and restrict smoking in public places. The black market also seems to be pretty active in the Baltic country, with illicit cigarettes accounting for 20.4% of the overall Latvian tobacco market in 2020.

21. Jordan

Prevalence of Cigarette Smoking in 2022: 27.5%

Jordan is the Top Country for Smoking in the Middle East, with over 80% of the country’s male population aged 18-69 engaged in the habit. The country’s tobacco industry casts itself as a major investor and job creator, and tobacco taxes amount to around 18% of the government’s annual revenue. It's worth noting that Jordan imposes a 200% excise tax on heated tobacco and e-cigarettes.

20. Tuvalu

Prevalence of Cigarette Smoking in 2022: 27.7%

Although the smoking prevalence among males in Tuvalu reached 49.8% in 2020, it was the lowest figure recorded in the previous two decades, with the highest figure amounting to a staggering 68.2% in the year 2000.

19. Georgia

Prevalence of Cigarette Smoking in 2022: 28.6%

Despite the high smoking prevalence in the Caucasian country, the Georgian Parliament is considering cutting tobacco consumption tax by half to boost the local industry and reduce illegal imports. According to the proposed revised Taxation Law, the consumption tax on tobacco products may be reduced from $22.64 to $11.32.

18. Russia

Prevalence of Cigarette Smoking in 2022: 28.7%

Smoking is a big part of the Russian life and it’s a common sight to see locals smoking in the streets all the time. However, the government has taken various steps over the last two decades to discourage the harmful habit, including printing anti-smoking messages on all packets of cigarettes in 2010, banning tobacco advertising at point-of-sale in 2013, and prohibiting tobacco products at various locations during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics etc.

Russia sits at number 18 in our list of Top Cigarette-Smoking Countries.

17. Turkey

Prevalence of Cigarette Smoking in 2022: 28.9%

Tobacco was introduced to the Ottomans by the Spanish in the 17th century, and the country is now the world’s largest producer of aromatic oriental tobacco – a small-leafed variety which is sun-cured. According to Turkey's Fight Against Smoking Association, the Turkish public spends around $15 billion on cigarettes annually while the government spends $10 billion per year to treat smoking-related illnesses.

16. Cyprus

Prevalence of Cigarette Smoking in 2022: 29.1%

Smoking is a socially acceptable habit in Cyprus and nearly 9.7% of the country’s adult population smokes at least one pack a day. The island country banned smoking in all enclosed public places and hospitality venues on January 1st 2010.

15. Bosnia and Herzegovina

Prevalence of Cigarette Smoking in 2022: 29.1%

The illicit cigarette trade continues to be a big problem in Bosnia and Herzegovina and illegal tobacco products are often smuggled into the Balkan country from its neighboring countries of Montenegro, Serbia, and Albania. The legal tobacco market shrunk by more than 56% from 2010 to 2020, resulting in huge losses to the national exchequer.

14. Montenegro

Prevalence of Cigarette Smoking in 2022: 29.4%

Montenegrins have a centuries long tradition of smoking tobacco and around 400 of them are diagnosed with lung cancer every year, costing the economy over $75,000 per patient.

With an annual per capita alcohol consumption of 10.34 liters, Montenegro is also placed among the Drunkest Countries in the World.

13. Papua New Guinea

Prevalence of Cigarette Smoking in 2022: 29.4%

The tobacco black market market has declined remarkably in PNG over the last few years, with the share of tax-avoiding products declining from 40% in the near past to only 4% today, allowing the island country’s tax authorities to collect more revenue. This massive success is mainly attributed to the various tax breaks granted by the government to manufacturers.

12. Andorra

Prevalence of Cigarette Smoking in 2022: 29.6%

Andorra is famous for its duty free shopping, and that includes tobacco products and alcohol. As a result, many people from southern France make the trip to the independent principality to stock up on cheap cigarettes and booze.

11. Greece

Prevalence of Cigarette Smoking in 2022: 29.8%

The tobacco giant Philip Morris International sells around 3.6 million cigarettes annually in Greece and controls roughly one-third of the local tobacco market. The Greek tobacco company Papastratos – an affiliate of PMI – announced a major new investment of over $135 million in its Aspropyrgos factory in 2021.

Greece ranks 11th in our list of Highest Cigarette-Smoking Countries in the World.

Click to continue reading and see the 10 Countries with the Most Cigarette Smokers per Capita.

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Disclosure: None. 25 Countries with the Most Cigarette Smokers per Capita is originally published on Insider Monkey.