Tobacco smoking is set to increase until 2010, but at lower rates than in the past as more people in rich countries shun the habit, the U.N. agriculture agency said Thursday.
The number of smokers worldwide will rise to 1.3 billion in 2010 from 1.1 billion in 1998 due to population and income growth, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said in a report. But fewer smokers in developed countries means consumption growth will slow.
"By 2010, the share of developed countries in world tobacco consumption is projected to be only 29 percent, from 34 percent in 1998. The share of developing countries will be 71 percent," FAO said in a statement.
Increasing awareness of the damaging health effects of smoking and intensified anti-smoking campaigns would account for a steady fall in developed nations' tobacco consumption to 2.05 million tons in 2010, down 10 percent from 1998.
But consumption in poorer nations will continue to rise by 1.7 percent a year, with China leading the way.
"A major part of the projected increase in demand is expected to be in the Far East, particularly in China. The share of China in total world tobacco demand is likely to remain around 37 percent in 2010," the FAO report said.
Smoking kills five million people a year through tobacco-related diseases and is the single greatest cause of preventable death in the world.
The World Health Organization predicts deaths from smoking could reach 10 million worldwide by the late 2020s, with more than 70 percent of victims living in the developing world.