In many very high-Human Development Index (HDI) countries, smoking rates in women follow the pattern set by men, 30-50 years later. This phenomenon, called the global smoking epidemic, is not inevitable and appropriate tobacco control measures can ensure that low- and medium-HDI countries do not follow the same model. As of 2018, 175 million women ages 15 and older are current smokers. Compared to men, women smokers are disproportionately likely to come from very high-HDI countries. Some women may smoke to lose or control weight, but both healthy diet and exercise are more efficient and less harmful ways to control weight.

Global Distribution of Smokers

Three quarters of male daily smokers live in countries with medium- or high-HDI, whereas half of female daily smokers live in very high-HDI countries.

Male and female daily smokers globally, age ≥10 years, 2015, by country human development index