STATE OF SMOKING IN MALAWI - Foundation for a Smoke-Free World

State of smoking in


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Malawi Smoking by the Numbers

Smoking Reduction

Tobacco smoking rates among men and women have declined from 25.5% and 6.1% in 2003 to 18% and 1.2% respectively in 2010, according to the latest available data.

Tobacco Types

The most common type of tobacco is boxed cigarettes at 86%, followed by hand-rolled cigarettes, and then pipes at a tie.

Tobacco Deaths

The number of tobacco related deaths has decreased from 57 to 31 per 100,000 from 1990 to 2017. With men decreasing 88 to 54 and women 30 to 11.

Breast v Lung Cancer in Women (Deaths, 2017)

Breast: 0.82%, Lung: 0.20%

Media Dialogue

Tobacco farming accounts for 81 percent of Malawi’s foreign exchange earnings. So, efforts to end smoking are treated with caution and often tinged with concern about negative economic consequences for the country. Furthermore, there is a lack of public education about smoking and many smokers, especially in rural areas, don’t fully understand smoking’s potential to cause negative health effects.
“Patients with chronic diseases, I talk with many about the consequences of smoking, and they say, ‘Oh, this cannot be so.’”

– Lawrence Kasenda, medical professional

Public Smoking

No bans

Point of sale Displays

 There is no law that requires tobacco packaging to display a warning or the associated risks.

Attitudes and Perceptions

How harmful are e-cigs compared to cigarettes?

Perception of relative harm of vaping devices. From the Foundation’s 2017 and 2019 Global Polls, participants were asked, “Do you think smoking e-cigarettes and vaping devices are more or less harmful than smoking regular cigarettes?”

*Data from the 2017 Global Poll


Malawians have little exposure to or knowledge of alternatives to combustible cigarettes.


45.7% of smokers in Malawi tried quitting without assistance (2017 global poll)


If smoking cigarettes, cigars, cigarillos, or pipe were completely banned in Malawi tomorrow, 73.2% of Malawian smokers feel they could stop smoking completely (2017 global poll)


92.4% of smokers in Malawi believe that tuberculosis is a condition caused by smoking cigarettes, cigars, cigarillos, or pipe (2017 global poll)

Have you ever spent money on cigarettes that you knew would be better spent on household essentials like food?

Would an increase in tobacco price have an effect on your current smoking habit?

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