Who Smokes Most: A surprising map of smoking rates by country

by Jenny Novac on October 23, 2012

Average yearly cigarette consumption in Eastern Europe can exceed 2,000 cigarettes per person. The highest smoking rate is in Serbia – 2,861 cigarettes per person per year, based on records from 71 countries produced by the World Lung Foundation and American Cancer Society. Fourth-place Russia, 2,786 cigarettes per person per year, is now ultimately dealing with its smoking problem.

Planned new limits in Russia — modeled after regulations in Western countries that coincided with a fall in smoking rates — would restrict tobacco advertising and smoking in public places in Russia, and more than double excise taxes on cigarettes.

Cigarette Smoking

Woman holding a lighted up cigarette

The international smoking facts with surprising pieces of information are presented below:

– Eastern Europe has the highest smoking rates. The one Eastern European exception is Romania, which had similarly sombrous smoking rate until the country introduced tough anti-smoking rules in 1997.

– The largest numbers of smokers outside of Eastern Europe are South Korean, Kazakhstan, and Japan. China’s cigarette consumption rate still falls behind Korea’s and Japan’s (1,711 cigarettes per person in China vs 1,958 in Korea and 1,841 in Japan), but China is considered the largest overall consumer of cigarettes in the world.

– According to a 1998 study of Russian smoking habits revealed a direct connection between cigarette and alcohol consumption rates and a direct connection between smoking and exposure to “Western influences,” such as Western cigarette firms advertising cigarettes as symbols of a “gorgeous Western lifestyle.”

– Smoking Americans get ranking right in the middle. The U.S. is positioned on 34th place in the available records, with about a thousand cigarettes consumed per person per year. The same smoking rate is in Israel, Australia and Ireland.

– Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia have some of the lowest cigarette consumption rates around the world. Indians smoke only 96 cigarettes per year per person. Ethiopians light up only 46 cigarettes. If Americans smoked like that, tobacco firms would failure immediately, but health-care costs would decline considerably as well; direct health-care costs linked to smoking in the United States are determined at $96 billion per year.

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