Ahead of World No Tobacco Day on May 31, we examine patterns in smoking prevalence. Smoking prevalence is much higher among adult men than adult women worldwide. One out of three men smokes, and only one in 16 women (i.e. 6 percent of women) smokes a tobacco product on a daily or non-daily basis. However, even though women smoke much less, they are often exposed to harm with high levels of second-hand smoking.
Prevalence of smoking also has stark regional variation. Overall, smoking is most prevalent in Europe and Central Asia (29 percent), and least prevalent in Sub-Saharan Africa (10 percent). The regional variation disaggregated by gender is more extreme. Prevalence of smoking is highest among men in East Asia and Pacific (49 percent), and lowest in Sub-Saharan Africa (18 percent). Among women, prevalence of smoking is highest in Europe and Central Asia (21 percent), followed by North America (18 percent), while less than 3 percent of women smoke in South Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, Middle East and North Africa, and East Asia and Pacific.