Tobacco consumption has fallen over the past 20 years in the United States, Australia, Canada and most European countries; and so tobacco companies are turning their marketing efforts to low- and middle-income countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America to compensate for the loss of markets in high-income countries.

The tobacco industry has employed various strategies and tactics including cigarettes smuggling, recruiting of new and young smokers, denying the health consequences of smoking, manipulating governments to delay tobacco control legislations and the sponsoring of health professionals and academic institutions to act in their favor.

In addition to the negative health consequences, this focus has also fostered an economic dependence on tobacco in countries like Malawi and Brazil, who depend on tobacco exports.

Currently, there are over 1.2 billion tobacco users in the world. Around two-thirds of all smokers live in developing countries. Out of the total burden of tobacco-related diseases globally, 70 percent will occur in developing countries by 2030.

1. Doku D. The tobacco industry tactics—a challenge for tobacco control in low and middle income countries. African Health Sciences 2010; 10(2): 201-203. (open access)