Where the Marlboro man is still king

According to a new poll, about one in five Americans smoke, tied for the lowest rate since Gallup started keeping track and less than half of what the rate was in the late ’60s and early ’70s. The decline of smoking in the United States has been well-documented, but what countries have the highest smoking ...

By , a former associate editor at Foreign Policy.
HOANG DINH NAM/AFP/GettyImages
HOANG DINH NAM/AFP/GettyImages
HOANG DINH NAM/AFP/GettyImages

According to a new poll, about one in five Americans smoke, tied for the lowest rate since Gallup started keeping track and less than half of what the rate was in the late '60s and early '70s. The decline of smoking in the United States has been well-documented, but what countries have the highest smoking rates?

According to the latest Tobacco Atlas, released earlier this year by the American Cancer Society and the World Lung Foundation, Pacific islanders are the world's heaviest smokers, with rates of 58 percent in Kiribati, 52.9 percent in Nauru, and 44 percent in Palau and Papua New Guinea. It's not an across-the-board trend, however, Marshall Islanders have one of the world's lowest rates at 3.3 percent.

Austria also has one of the world's highest rates at 47 percent, despite the fact that smoking is banned in restaurants and many businesses there. Albania, Bosnia, and Chile are all in the 40s. Russia's rate is 39.1 percent.

According to a new poll, about one in five Americans smoke, tied for the lowest rate since Gallup started keeping track and less than half of what the rate was in the late ’60s and early ’70s. The decline of smoking in the United States has been well-documented, but what countries have the highest smoking rates?

According to the latest Tobacco Atlas, released earlier this year by the American Cancer Society and the World Lung Foundation, Pacific islanders are the world’s heaviest smokers, with rates of 58 percent in Kiribati, 52.9 percent in Nauru, and 44 percent in Palau and Papua New Guinea. It’s not an across-the-board trend, however, Marshall Islanders have one of the world’s lowest rates at 3.3 percent.

Austria also has one of the world’s highest rates at 47 percent, despite the fact that smoking is banned in restaurants and many businesses there. Albania, Bosnia, and Chile are all in the 40s. Russia’s rate is 39.1 percent.

Many Asian countries have an extremely high gender disparity in smoking. According to another Gallup poll from earlier this year, 64 percent of Indonesian men smoke but only 6 percent of women. In China, it’s 57 to 3. 

What country has the world’s fewest smokers? Of the ones that the Tobacco Atlas has data available for, it’s Mauritania at 1.1 percent. 

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @joshuakeating

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