Media Advisory: Report: Global Smokers Exceed 1.1 Billion

Media Advisory: Report: Global Smokers Exceed 1.1 Billion


May 16, 2022 9:00 – 9:30 a.m. ET
1:00 – 1:30 p.m. GMT REGISTER HERE

Ahead of the release of a new Tobacco Atlas, health leaders will discuss latest findings on the current status of tobacco use worldwide

CHICAGO, USA, 12 May, 2022,/African Media Agency(AMA)/- On Monday, May 16 at 9 a.m. ET global health organization Vital Strategies and the Tobacconomics team at the University of Illinois at Chicago will host a media briefing on findings from the 7th edition of the Tobacco Atlas, which will be released on May 18 at 6 a.m. ET. The Tobacco Atlas offers new data about the number of tobacco users around the world, as well as the number of deaths and the dollar amount in economic damage that has resulted.Now in its 20th year, The Tobacco Atlas is the only publication of its kind, using the best, most recent data to chart the tobacco epidemic country by country and offer clear, proven solutions for non-technical audiences.

Among its findings: 

  • For the first time, global prevalence is dropping but Africa, Eastern Mediterranean and Western Pacific regions are seeing increases in tobacco consumption. 
  • In 63 countries – more than half of those where it was measured – tobacco use among young teenage boys or girls increased, in part due to the tobacco industry’s widening reach and leveraging of novel products like e-cigarettes. 
  • The global tobacco industry’s roots in racism, slavery, and white supremacy continue to affect industry practices to this day, driving disproportionate death and disease among Black, brown, and indigenous peoples around the world.  
  •  Industry continues target marginalized people: In the U.S. Most Black smokers use menthol cigarettes—nearly 3x as many as white smokers, resulting in tens of thousands of deaths every year; Adult smoking is significantly higher among in the U.S. LGBTQ+ community.

Using bold, user-friendly graphics and data visualization, the atlas details the scale of the tobacco epidemic and draws upon the expertise of more than a dozen leading health experts to bring the latest peer-reviewed data to life. The report tracks where progress has been made in tobacco control, and describes the latest products and tactics being deployed by the tobacco industry to grow profits and derail tobacco control efforts. In addition to addressing major developments across all topic areas, the seventh edition has new chapters that cover: COVID-19; counter-marketing; and race, ethnicity and equity, the last co-authored with the African American Leadership Council on Tobacco Control. 


  • Jeffrey Drope, Ph.D., lead author of the Tobacco Atlas, Research Professor of Public Health at the University of Illinois at Chicago
  • Phillip S. Gardiner, Dr. P.H, Co-Chair of the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council
  • Nandita Murukutla, Ph.D., Vice President, Global Policy and Research, Vital Strategies
  • Violeta Vulovic, Ph.D., Senior Economist at the Institute for Health Research and Policy, University of Illinois Chicago

Moderated by Steve Hamill, Vice President, Policy Advocacy and Communication, Vital Strategies 
WHEN: Monday, May 16, 9:00 a.m. ET | 1:00 p.m. GMT
RSVP: Register for the virtual briefing today: https://vitalstrategies.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_9RShWgUOQuqIkOcI-h5T6Q

Speaker Biographies:
 Jeffrey Drope, Ph.D., is Research Professor of Public Health at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He is a leading expert on tobacco taxation, illicit trade in tobacco products and the economics of tobacco farming. He also researches other major risk factors for noncommunicable diseases such as poor nutrition, alcohol use and physical inactivity. 

 Phillip S. Gardiner, Dr. P.H., is a Public Health activist, administrator, evaluator and researcher. For the past 20 years, Dr. Gardiner has lectured around the country on African American health disparities generally and menthol smoking in the Black community, particularly. Dr. Gardiner recently retired as the Senior Program Officer for the Tobacco Related Disease Research Program (TRDRP), University of California Office of the President, a position he had been in since 1997. Dr. Gardiner is currently the Co-Chair of the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council (AATCLC), a group of Black professionals dedicated to fighting the scourge of tobacco impacting African American communities both in California and Nationally.

Nandita Murukutla, Ph.D., is a social scientist with a background in behavioral economics. At Vital Strategies, Dr. Murukutla provides scientific leadership by ensuring that its health communication programs and policy advocacy efforts reflect the latest evidence from the social behavioral sciences. She collaborates with experts and supervises a team in primary research, monitoring and evaluation, cost-effectiveness, and policy analysis. This analysis has supported decisions by governments and other stakeholders in up to 60 countries across Africa, the Americas, Asia, and Eastern Europe in the areas of food policy, road safety and injury prevention, tobacco control, maternal and reproductive health, and more recently in the public health response to COVID-19. She holds a PhD in Social Psychology from Yale University, USA.

 Violeta Vulovic, Ph.D., is a senior economist at the Institute for Health Research and Policy, University of Illinois Chicago (UIC), where she conducts research and mentors researchers on the macro-and socioeconomic impacts of tobacco and other health taxes. Prior to joining UIC in 2017, Violeta worked as an economist with the World Bank Group, where she led and supported the technical assistance on a variety of tax policy and administration issues in developing countries, focusing on East and South Asia regions. Violeta has published on optimal tax structures, the macro-economic and distributional impacts of tax and expenditure policies, and tax effort. 

Stephen Hamill is Vital Strategies’ Vice President for Policy Advocacy and Communication. In this role Stephen oversees external affairs and heads a global team working to improve health in 60 countries. He has 25 years of experience in civil society and government with a focus on strategic communications, advocacy, design, and digital communications. He is bringing this expertise to bear on global health issues including tobacco control, overdose prevention, environmental health, healthy food policy and other leading health areas.

Distributed by African Media Agency on behalf of Vital Strategies

About the Seventh EditionThe seventh edition of The Tobacco Atlas launches May 18, 2022. The Tobacco Atlas compiles, validates and interprets global- and country-level data from multiple sources to present the best and most recent evidence, and build a holistic and accurate picture of the tobacco use, tobacco control, and the tobacco industry’s activities around the world. Policymakers, public health practitioners, advocates, journalists and the public can interact with the data online at tobaccoatlas.org. Produced with funding from Bloomberg Philanthropies, the seventh edition of the atlas graphically details the scale of the tobacco epidemic, progress that has been made in tobacco control, and the latest products and tactics being deployed by the tobacco industry to grow its profits and delay or derail tobacco control efforts. In addition to addressing major developments across all topic areas, the seventh edition has new chapters that cover: COVID-19; counter-marketing; and race, ethnicity and equity, the last co-authored with the African American Leadership Council on Tobacco Control.

About Vital Strategies
Vital Strategies is a global health organization that believes every person should be protected by a strong public health system. Our team combines evidence-based strategies with innovation to help develop and implement sound public health policies, manage programs efficiently, strengthen data systems, conduct research, and design strategic communication campaigns for policy and behavior change. To find out more, please visit www.vitalstrategies.org or Twitter @VitalStrat.

 About the Tobacconomics at University Illinois at Chicago
The UIC Tobacconomics team conducts economic research to inform and shape fiscal policies for health. Their research demonstrates the impact that smart policies such as targeted higher taxes can have on unhealthy behaviors. For example, because of tobacco taxes, smoking rates are dropping and indoor air has become much cleaner. Because companies that sell these products have begun to focus on low- and middle-income countries, the team works closely with a network of dynamic and talented research partners in many of these countries at the nexus of public health and economic policy. This work is providing evidence-based guidance for leaders and policy makers on future interventions.
 Media ContactAlly Davis- adavis@vitalstrategies.org 

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