• Thursday, July 18, 2024
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Top 10 African countries battling highest tobacco use

Top 10 African countries battling highest tobacco use

Tobacco use remains a significant public health challenge globally, and Africa is no exception.

The high prevalence of tobacco use in African countries can be attributed to cultural norms that perceive smoking as acceptable, especially among men.

Aggressive marketing tactics by the tobacco industry have targeted these markets, further normalising smoking behaviors.

Economic dependencies on tobacco farming, coupled with weak enforcement of tobacco control policies, exacerbate the challenges in reducing tobacco use across the continent.

According to the latest WHO tobacco trends report, there are 1.25 billion adult tobacco users globally. The report highlights a decline in global tobacco use rates, with approximately 1 in 5 adults currently using tobacco, down from 1 in 3 in 2000.

Read also: WHO accuses tobacco companies of aiming at young customers

It also notes that 150 countries have been successful in reducing tobacco use, with Brazil achieving a 35% reduction since 2010 and the Netherlands nearing a 30% reduction target following the implementation of MPOWER tobacco control measures.

Ruediger Krech, the director of WHO Department of Health Promotion states that “Good progress has been made in tobacco control in recent years, but there is no time for complacency. I’m astounded at the depths the tobacco industry will go to pursue profits at the expense of countless lives. We see that the minute a government thinks they have won the fight against tobacco the tobacco industry seizes the opportunity to manipulate health policies and sell their deadly products,”

The WHO emphasises the need for countries to continue implementing tobacco control policies and combat interference from the tobacco industry.

Currently, the WHO South-East Asian Region has the highest tobacco use prevalence at 26.5%, followed closely by the European Region at 25.3%. By 2030, the WHO European Region is projected to have the highest global rates, slightly over 23%, with women in this region experiencing tobacco use rates more than double the global average.

Read also: Towards a smoke-free Nigeria: Lessons from Sweden’s success

Globally, the world is on track to achieve a 25% relative reduction in tobacco use by 2025, falling short of the voluntary goal of 30% reduction from the 2010 baseline.

Only 56 countries are expected to meet this goal, down from the previous report, while in some countries tobacco use rates have stagnated since 2010 and are increasing in six countries: Congo, Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, Oman, and Republic of Moldova.

Here are the top 10 African countries battling the highest tobacco use (estimated tobacco users in thousands)


Estimated tobacco users: 18,183
Egypt tops the list with a staggering number of tobacco users, reflecting a significant public health concern in the country.

South Africa

Estimated tobacco users: 8,350
South Africa follows closely behind Egypt, with a substantial portion of its population engaged in tobacco use.

Read also: WHO wants Nigerian govt to ban tobacco products


Estimated tobacco users: 6,665
Algeria ranks third, indicating widespread tobacco use despite various public health efforts.

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Estimated tobacco users: 5,713
The DRC shows a high prevalence of tobacco use, reflecting challenges in tobacco control measures.


Estimated tobacco users: 4,597
Sudan’s position highlights significant tobacco consumption within its population.

Read also: Tobacco harm reduction: Nnanyelugo, others push Sweden model for smoke-free future Nigeria


Estimated tobacco users: 4,585
Despite being an island nation, Madagascar faces notable challenges in tackling tobacco use.


Estimated tobacco users: 3,541
Morocco’s ranking underscores the widespread use of tobacco among its citizens.


Estimated tobacco users: 3,534
Nigeria, with its large population, has a considerable number of tobacco users, posing public health challenges.

Read also: The science of tobacco harm reduction


Estimated tobacco users: 3,372
Ethiopia’s inclusion in the top 10 highlights the need for targeted interventions to reduce tobacco use.


Estimated tobacco users: 3,066
Kenya rounds up the list with a substantial number of tobacco users, indicating a significant health concern.