Global: Smokin’ places
April 25th, 2022, Christien Pheby

Global: Smokin’ places

In the last few decades, tobacco companies have had to adjust to a reality where the health risks of their product – per the US CDC, smoking “causes cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung diseases, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)”, among other things – have become widely known. This has led to a shift in tone and emphasis from many companies in the industry; with some even committing to “delivering a smoke-free future” by certain dates.

Data from YouGov Global Profiles shows that the global public are some way off stubbing out the cigarettes for good. Ask the public across every market in our database, and more agree that “smoking is going to die out eventually” than disagree (37% vs. 30%) – but when polled on their actual smoking habits across Europe, MENA, the Americas, and APAC, it does not look particularly close to extinction.

Europe has the highest concentration of current smokers: three in ten (29%) say they light up at least some of the time, with a quarter (23%) doing so every day. In MENA, just a quarter (24%) say the same, compared to a fifth of people in the Americas (21%) and APAC (18%).

Europe is also the region with the highest concentration of ex-smokers – accounting for another three in ten (29%), and the smallest proportion of adults who’ve never smoked (40%). We should be careful not to overly homogenise the continent: there are markets where people smoke significantly more and significantly less. In Britain, for example, just 15% say they puff up at least some of the time (with just 11% doing so daily); in Poland, two in five do so (39%), with three in ten taking a drag every day.

Digging a little deeper reveals some key differences in attitudes between consumers in both countries: half of Britons, for example, believe smoking is on the way out (51%) compared to less than two in five Polish consumers (37%); Poland has a higher proportion of the public saying they only smoke when they drink (GB 10%; Poland 16%); and Poles are more likely to believe “smoking isn’t so bad compared to binge drinking” (GB 16%; Poland 25%).

So if you’re working for a tobacco company that’s sincere about delivering a “smoke-free future” – or an anti-smoking campaign – there may well be places on the continent where your messaging could be improved. It is a similar story in other regions. YouGov Global Profiles can provide more sophisticated insights in markets across Europe, MENA, APAC, and the Americas.


YouGov Profiles is based on continuously collected data and rolling surveys, rather than from a single limited questionnaire. Profiles data is nationally representative and weighted by age, gender, education, region, and race. Learn more about Profiles.

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