Breaking Down the Decline of Smoking in Africa

In recent years, we have seen a decline in smoking rates across many countries, but what does this look like in Africa?

Thanks to the hard work of public health specialists and statisticians across the continent we now have a better understanding of this trend. Using data from the World Health Organization (accessed through the World Bank data portal and published by Our World in Data), Jonathan Jayes, one of our interns, has examined the changes in smoking prevalence in South Africa and other nations on the continent. The figure below shows the evolution of the percentage of adults who smoke across the continent. South Africa is shown with a black line.

South Africa saw a decrease in the percentage of adult smokers, falling from 23.5% in 2000 to 20.3% in 2020. Other African nations saw even greater declines. In Sierra Leone, the number of adult smokers dropped from 44% in 2000 to just 14% in 2020, while in Tanzania, the figure fell from almost three in ten adults in 2000 to less than one in ten by 2020. As a result, in the relative rankings, South Africa rose from 18th position in 2000 to 7th in 2020, with an adult smoking rate of 20 percent. This trails behind the island nation with the highest smoking prevalence, Madagascar, at 28 percent.

Have a look at Jonathan’s full blogpost where he creates an interactive map for the whole world here:

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