World No Tobacco Day

The global tobacco epidemic and how young people are being targeted

Infographic Details

May 31, 2016

The global tobacco epidemic and how young people are being targeted

Cigarette smoking is the most common form of tobacco use in most countries, and the majority of adult smokers start smoking prior to the age of 18.

Cigarette smoking by youth has immediate health consequences, including addiction, and can accelerate the development of chronic diseases throughout the lifespan.


  • Oropharynx
  • Larynx
  • Esophagus
  • Trachea, bronchus, & lung
  • Acute myeloid leukemia
  • Stomach
  • Liver
  • Pancreas
  • Kidney & ureter
  • Cervix
  • Bladder
  • Colorectal

Chronic Diseases

  • Stroke
  • Blindness, cataracts, age related macular degeneration
  • Congenital defects- maternal smoking: orofacial clefts
  • Periodontitis
  • Aortic aneurysm, early abdominal aortic atherosclerosis in young adults
  • Pneumonia
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, tuberculosis, asthma, and other respiratory effects
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Atherosclerotic peripheral vascular disease
  • Diabetes
  • Hip fractures
  • Reproductive effects in women (including infertility)
  • Male sexual function–erectile dysfunction
  • Immune function
  • Overall diminished health

Median Percent of Youth Aged 13-15 Currently Smoking Cigarettes in 41 Countries

by WHO Region (2012-14)

  • AFRO: 4.8%
  • EMRO: 6.6%
  • EURO: 9.4%
  • PAHO: 6%
  • SEARO: 16.2%
  • WPRO: 7.2%

The tobacco industry spends tens of billions of dollars worldwide each year on advertsiing, promotion and sponsorship.

The more young people are exposed to cigarette advertising and promotional activities, the more likely they are to smoke.

In many countries, tobacco is promoted via media and avenues that youth frequently visit, including the movies, the Internet, in fashion magazines, and at music and sporting events.

Median Percent of Youth Aged 13-15 Who Received a Free Cigarette by a Tobacco Company in 38 Countries

By WHO Region (2012-14)

  • AFRO: 7.1%
  • EMRO: 10.4%
  • EURO: 5.5%
  • PAHO: 7.1%
  • SEARO: 8.8%
  • WPRO: 3.2%

WHO’S framework convention on tobacco control article 13 calls for a total ban on direct and indirect tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship. This can substantially reduce tobacco consumption and protect people, particularly youth, from industry marketing tactics.

Learn more about the Global Youth TobaccoSurvey and CDC’s work in global tobacco control at

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Page last reviewed: July 19, 2017
Content source: Global Health