The number of men and boys who use tobacco has plateaued for the first time since data collection on the issue began, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported on Thursday,
This marks a significant step in global anti-smoking efforts, as previously most downward trends were driven by a decreasing number of female smokers.
"For many years now we had witnessed a steady rise in the number of males using deadly tobacco products. But now, for the first time, we are seeing a decline in male use, driven by governments being tougher on the tobacco industry," said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
In the report, WHO noted that governments' efforts to "to save lives, protect health, beat tobacco," were clearly working, and the organization vowed to work closely with officials to maintain the downward trend.
Some 600 million fewer people used tobacco in 2018 compared to the year 2000, WHO wrote. By 2020, the organization expects there will be 10 million fewer smokers than in 2018, and by 2025 that will drop by another 27 million.
Tobacco use causes not only mouth and lung cancer and respiratory illness, but can also play a major role in cardiovascular disease and strokes. It has killed tens of millions of people in the past decades.
The WHO report includes not only smoking cigarettes, but also pipes, cigars, vaping, and smokeless products like chewing tobacco and bidis.
es/sms (Reuters, dpa)