There were nearly eight million deaths associated with smoking in 2019, and 89% of new smokers were addicted by the age of 25, global data suggests.
The number of smokers worldwide increased to 1.1 billion in 2019, with tobacco smoking causing 7.7 million deaths – including one in five deaths in males worldwide.
Researchers say the global number of smokers continues to rise, and there is particular concern over persistently high rates of smoking among young people.
Given that the large majority of new smokers become addicted by age 25, protecting young people from nicotine addiction during this window will be crucial to eliminate tobacco use among the next generation, experts suggest.
Using data from 3,625 nationally representative surveys, the three studies are published in The Lancet and The Lancet Public Health journals by the Global Burden of Disease collaboration.
They provide global estimates on smoking prevalence in 204 countries in men and women aged 15 and over.
This includes age of initiation, associated diseases, and risks among current and former smokers, as well as the first analysis of global trends in chewing tobacco use.
Published ahead of World No Tobacco Day on May 31, the authors call on all countries to urgently adopt and enforce a package of evidence-based policies to reduce the prevalence of tobacco use and prevent initiation at a young age.
Professor Emmanuela Gakidou, senior author, Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), University of Seattle, Washington, said: “Persistently high smoking prevalence among young people in many countries, along with the expansion of new tobacco and nicotine products, highlight an urgent need to double down on tobacco control.
“If a person does not become a regular smoker by age 25, they are very unlikely to become a smoker.
“This presents a critical window of opportunity for interventions that can prevent young people from starting smoking and improve their health for the rest of their lives.”