What are the 10 countries with the highest percentage of smokers? Although study after study shows that smoking is bad for one’s health, smoking can be a difficult habit to kick. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 15.1% of American adults smoke, and smoking is the leading cause of preventable disease in the country. This is in spite of the fact that cigarettes are taxed heavily and awareness of smoking’s downsides have increased.
While the number of Americans that smoke sounds bad, an even larger percentage of the population smoke in other countries. Over 5 trillion cigarettes are smoked every year. Despite some reductions in smoking in the developed world, smoking in developing nations and Eastern bloc countries have largely offset the Western declines. In some countries, greater stress causes more people to smoke. The economic or physical conditions are tougher, forcing more people to resort to smoking as a stress reliever. In others, smoking isn’t seen as necessarily as much of a public health hazard as it is seen in the United States. Due to that perception, more people are willing to try smoking and have become addicted to it. In almost all of the countries on this list, cigarettes cost a lot less.
While there is no question that smoking is bad for one’s health, manufacturing and marketing cigarettes can be a lucrative and stable business. Companies such as Philip Morris International Inc. (NYSE:PM), British American Tobacco PLC (ADR) (NYSEMKT:BTI), and Reynolds American, Inc. (NYSE:RAI) have been reliable performers in recent years, churning out profits in good times and bad. In Philip Morris International Inc. (NYSE:PM)’s case, the cigarette giant reported revenue of $6.97 billion for its fourth quarter, up 9.1% year-over-year, and $300 million ahead of estimates. Although EPS came in two cents below the consensus at $1.10 per share, guidance is strong, with management expecting net income per share to come in at $4.80-$4.95 for 2017. That’s considerably better than last year’s $4.48 per share and the previous guidance of $4.70-$4.85. Shares are up 20% year-to-date as investors flock to the stock for the company’s 3.76% dividend yield and its safety due to ingrained habits by millions of its customers. Although it’s not cheap anymore, Philip Morris International Inc. (NYSE:PM) is arguably not expensive either.
The same case can be made for British American Tobacco PLC (ADR) (NYSEMKT:BTI), and Reynolds American, Inc. (NYSE:RAI), whose stocks are both well in the green year-to-date. Incidentally, British American Tobacco PLC (ADR) (NYSEMKT:BTI) agreed to merge with Reynolds American, Inc. (NYSE:RAI) in January of this year. If the merger is successful, the two companies will have more scale, and could be more profitable for shareholders.
In this article, let’s take a closer look at the 10 Countries With The Highest Percentage of Smokers, some of which will likely surprise you. For those of you interested, also check out the article 7 Cigarette Brands With Lowest Tar and Nicotine.
Although it’s a tropical paradise, many Samoans smoke. According to the Tobacco Atlas, 33.6% more men smoke in Samoa than the average for middle-income countries.