The rate of cigarette smoking in the US and many other countries has been decreasing after an all-out effort by the governments and other agencies. But roughly a billion people around the world still smoke cigarettes, which is about 15% of the world’s population. According to an estimate, smoking causes about 6 million deaths every year. Here we take a look at the top 10 heaviest smoking countries in the world.
Top 10 heaviest smoking countries
An estimated 60% of the world’s smokers live in developing countries. China produces and consumes about a third of the world’s cigarettes. According to Tobacco Atlas, China smokes 2,043 cigarettes per adult per year. Tobacco Atlas takes into account only people aging 15 or above, not the entire population. By comparison, the global average is 1,083 cigarettes per person per year.
Tobacco Atlas estimates that more than 5.7 trillion cigarettes were smoked around the world in 2016. Tobacco companies continue to play the double game of committing for a smoking-free world on the one hand and aggressively advertising their cigarettes on the other hand. Here is the list of the top 10 heaviest smoking countries on the planet.
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The war-torn Syria is one of the world’s heaviest smoking countries, with an average of 2,291 cigarettes per year per adult. Weak laws and lower income prevent Syria from reducing its tobacco-dependence. There has been little effort by the government to crack down on smoking.
Russians have been heavily smoking cigarettes for decades, but the government has taken strong action in recent years to curb smoking. A few years ago, Moscow banned people from smoking in restaurants and cafes. The country has also prohibited the tobacco advertisements and tobacco sponsorship of major events. On average, Russia smokes 2,295 cigarettes per adult per year.
Just like Syria, Jordan is one of the most tobacco-dependent non-European countries in the world. The Arabian country suffers from relatively high poverty and unemployment. Jordan has a smoking rate of 2,306 cigarettes per adult per year.
7- Czech Republic
Most European countries have implemented tough laws to fight smoking, but some continue to be among the heaviest smoking countries in the world. The Czech Republic has a cigarette consumption average of 2,427 cigarettes per adult per year. It was the last member of the European Union to prohibit smoking in bars, cafes, and restaurants.
According to The Brussels Times, the smoking rate in Belgium has been declining. But it remains one of the world’s heaviest smoking countries with an annual average of 2,440 cigarettes per adult. About 23% Belgians aged 15 and above are smokers. Even though the country has banned smoking in restaurants and cafe, people continue to violate the laws.
According to an estimate, about 40% Albanians are regular smokers. They spend more than 300 million euros annually on tobacco products. The country has tough anti-smoking laws in place, but they are not strictly enforced. Tobacco Atlas says Albanian adults on average smoke 2,491 cigarettes per year. Albania also manufactures counterfeit ‘Made in Egypt’ cigarettes and exports them to North African countries.
About 46% of Macedonia’s adult population smokes regularly. The country had enacted strict anti-smoking laws a few years ago, but smokers began to resist the ban. In 2017, the ruling party submitted a bill to lift the ban on smoking in public places. The politicians argued that the anti-smoking laws were not only hurting the country’s hospitality industry but also infringing on smokers’ individual rights. Macedonian adults smoke 2,784 cigarettes per year.
Belarus is the third heaviest smoking country on the planet with adults smoking 2,911 cigarettes per year. About half the adult males and 10% females in Belarus are regular smokers. Smoking is prevalent even among children below age 14. A third of smokers smoke more than a pack of cigarettes per day. Belarus is the biggest source of illegal cigarettes in Europe due to the relatively lower prices and low tobacco tax rates.
While the number of smokers in Luxembourg has been falling in recent years, the Cancer Foundation of the country found that smoking among adults aged 18-24 was rising steadily. About 23% adult men and 18% women are regular smokers. Luxembourg banned smoking in public places in 2014, but it’s still one of the heaviest smoking countries on the planet. An average adult consumes 6,330 cigarettes per year.
Adults in Andora consume 6,398 cigarettes per year, earning it the notorious crown of the world’s heaviest smoking nation. Andora is a haven for duty-free shopping, meaning locals can buy cigarettes at much lower prices than in other countries. Farmers grow tobacco on more than 8% of the country’s farmland as it’s one of the most important agricultural products.
Over the last few decades, many countries such as Denmark, the US, and Canada have been able to reduce tobacco consumption through strict policies. People’s smoking habits in Western Europe has also been changing. But many developing nations continue to see a rise in smoking.