Smoking in South Africa vs the world

The World Bank has released a report on global smoking habits, showing which countries have the most smokers, and how the figures have changed over the past 15 years.

According to the report, there are fewer smokers in South Africa today than there were in 2000, with only 19% of the population over the age of 15 smoking in 2015 (versus 24% of the population in 2000).

Of all 190+ countries assessed, South Africa ranks around the middle at 84th in the world, just below the UK and Myanmar, and just above Mozambique.

The world bank noted that most countries globally have decreased their levels of smoking, with only 27 countries showing an increase in the smoking population over the past 15 years.

Of these nations, the Democratic Republic of the Congo saw the biggest jump, with the smoking population increasing by 284%.

However, Kiribati has the highest rate of smoking in the world, with 52% of its adult population being active smokers – down from 67% in 2000. The nation has a relatively small population, however, of just over 100,000 people.

The biggest smoking nations in the world

# Country Smokers 2000 Smokers 2015 Change
1 Kiribati 67% 52% -21%
2 Nauru 60% 48% -21%
3 Greece 53% 43% -19%
4 Serbia 48% 42% -13%
5 Russia 45% 41% -8%
6 Jordan 25% 40% +63%
7 Indonesia 31% 40% +28%
8 Bosnia and Herzegovina 47% 39% -18%
9 Lebanon 30% 38% +28%
10 Chile 47% 38% -19%
11 Latvia 41% 37% -11%
12 Croatia 34% 36% +7%
13 Sierra Leone 31% 36% +18%
14 Bulgaria 50% 35% -30%
15 Cuba 43% 35% -18%
84 South Africa 24% 19% -21%

According to the World Bank, smoking is directly tied to 6 million deaths every year, and could increase to 8 million by 2030.

Globally, smoking is more prevalent in men than in women – and in South Africa the gap is quite large, with 31% of adult men being smokers, versus just 7% of adult women.

Plans to clamp down on smoking in SA

The South African Government said it is determined to tighten its tobacco laws that will see plain packaging on cigarette products as part of a global drive to lower the incentive for people to smoke.

The health department said it plans to strengthen the Tobacco Products Control Act to fall in line with World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

This follows the 2009 law banning smoking in public spaces.

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said he plans to toughen the act’s stance on public smoking, ban the selling of cigarettes at shop counters, ban cigarette dispensers and force companies to package their products in brown paper with no branding whatsoever.

The minister pointed out that 44,000 South Africans still die every year as a result of smoking and said the habit has “no place in modern life”.

Regarding “subtle advertising” at shop counters, he said “we will deal with that”.

“They must go hide the cigarettes somewhere else,” he said. “They must not put it on open counters. Dispensers must also go.”

He said all cigarettes must be in one brown package with graphics that show the damage they can cause. “No branding, no logos, no colours.”

With News24

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Smoking in South Africa vs the world