State of Smoking in Malawi | Foundation for a Smoke-Free World

state of smoking in Malawi

This page was last edited on: April 25, 2023

smoking rate


Tobacco Use and Trends

The Malawi Demographic and Household Survey (2016) reported smoking rate of 12% for men and less than 1% for women aged between 15 – 49 years.


In 2019, tobacco use accounted for around 5,403 deaths and 174,616 disability-adjusted life-years in Malawi.

Regulatory environment

  • Malawi is not a signatory to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).
  • There is little regulation of tobacco products WHO’s demand reduction measures embody in the MPOWER framework were evaluated as ‘Minimal measure’ for monitoring, and ‘No policy or weak measure’ on others, including smoke-free environments, cessation programs, health warnings, mass media and taxation, and advertising bans.
  • The Tobacco Act regulates tobacco growing, wholesale buying, selling and exporting, while it lacks tobacco control related legislation.
  • Malawi has yet to put in place any regulations around e-cigarettes and other tobacco smoking alternatives


  • Malawi is one of the most economically tobacco-dependent country’s, with tobacco exports accounting for 55.6% of total merchandise exports ($584 million USD).
  • Tobacco comprises between 12% and 15% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), and 23% of the total tax base.
  • The total amount of land for tobacco production grew from 41,763 to 94,769 hectares and yield increased from 2,922 to 9,878 hectograms per hectare.
  • The number of tobacco farmers have decreased from 385,353 in 2004 to 177,893 in 2019. The share of smallholder farmers growing tobacco has declined from 16 % to 5%.
  • The key policy frameworks, such as Malawi 2063 and other initiatives, showed government’s keen to reduce overreliance on tobacco by focusing on diversification and sustainable agricultural transformation.

As research findings become available that are inclusive of additional gender identities, the Foundation will update the information presented. 

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