Big Tobacco's efforts to keep people smoking have been failing, with the number of people across the world using tobacco falling dramatically in a generation, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
One in five people now smokes or indulges in other tobacco consumption versus one in three in 2000, it said, while warning that more still needed to be done to wean people from their addiction to the health-damaging substance.
What did the WHO say?
In its global report, the WHO said 1.25 billion people aged 15 or over used tobacco in 2022 versus 1.36 billion in 2000.
The study said tobacco use was on the way to falling further by 2030 to around 1.2 billion people, despite the expected growth in the world population.
It said Southeast Asia and Europe had the largest proportion of smokers, with roughly a quarter of the population still addicted to the tobacco habit.
In another worrying statistic, the report said that on average, around 10% of 13- to 15-year-olds globally use one or more types of tobacco.
That amounts to at least 37 million adolescents, including at least 12 million who use new smokeless tobacco products.
"Good progress has been made in tobacco control in recent years, but there is no time for complacency," said Dr. Rüdiger Krech, director of the WHO Department of Health Promotion.
"I'm astounded at the depths the tobacco industry will go to pursue profits at the expense of countless lives," he said.
"We see that the minute a government thinks they have won the fight against tobacco, the tobacco industry seizes the opportunity to manipulate health policies and sell their deadly products," he added.
The WHO warned that tobacco-related deaths were expected to remain high for years to come despite the decline, with a three-decade wait for a reduction in deaths even if user numbers were falling.
Tobacco use is estimated to kill more than 8 million people each year, including an estimated 1.3 million nonsmokers who are exposed to secondhand smoke, WHO statistics show.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control, smoking causes cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung diseases, diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), among other health problems.
The report stressed these numbers were an underestimate since more than 70 countries provide no data.