Prevalence of Tobacco Use
There has been a decrease in smoking prevalence rates in the country. In 2003, the prevalence of cigarette smoking among males (ages 15-49) was 22.6% (1,853,412 smokers) while in 2014 the prevalence stood at 15.8% (1,810,871 smokers).
Tobacco use is more common among males (particularly males with no education or only a primary education), people aged 45 and above, and people living in the Eastern region (formerly Eastern province). Cessation efforts need to target these groups appropriately.
This page provides insights on the current prevalence of tobacco use by different sub-groups in the country. Current prevalence is defined as tobacco use in the past 30 days. The data are from the Kenya Demographic and Health Survey (KDHS) 2014, the Kenya Global Adults Tobacco Survey (GATS) 2014
In 2014, over 11% (2.5 million users) of Kenyans aged 15 and above used tobacco products.
Prevalence of Tobacco Use in Kenya (15+), 2014
Source: GATS, 2014
Tobacco use (smoked and smokeless) was more prevalent among males, at 19.1% (2.0 million users), compared to 4.5% (504,264 users) for females. This disparity is common globally and reflects the social traditions in developing countries.
Manufactured cigarettes are the most commonly used tobacco product at 6.9% (1,517,360 smokers).
11.6% of Kenyans use any type of tobacco product. While cigarettes are the most commonly used product, the prevalence of smokeless products is 4.5% (988,840 users). These smokeless users include snuff users (by mouth and nose) at 4.4% (964,129 users) and betel quid and kuber users. GATS findings further showed that of the current smokeless users, only 66.0% believed that the smokeless products caused serious illness. Conversely, 84.2% of non-users of smokeless products believed that smokeless products caused serious illness.
*It is important to note that other products that have emerged in the market since 2014 are not reflected in the chart displayed.
Prevalence of Tobacco Use Among Adults (Aged 15+) by Product, 2014
Source: GATS, 2014
The prevalence of cigarette smoking among males has been decreasing over time.
Cigarette Smoking in Males Aged 15-49
In 2003, the prevalence of cigarette smoking among males aged 15-49 was 22.6% (1,853,412) while in 2014 the prevalence stood at 15.8% (1,810,871 smokers). This shows a decrease in prevalence and the absolute number of males who smoke cigarettes.
Note – Trends among females are not shown as the figures prior to the 2014 DHS data were so low that they were not included in the DHS report.
Source: KDHS 2003, 2008/2009, 2014
A survey conducted by NACADA in 2018 to assess the level of knowledge, attitudes, and use of drugs among primary school children in the country. The survey determined the percentage of primary school pupils who had ever used tobacco products and those currently using tobacco products. Per the results of the survey, 91% of the pupils considered tobacco to be harmful.
Prevalence of Tobacco Use Among Primary School Going Children, 2018
Tobacco use was highest in the 17-20 year age group, at 7.2%, and lowest in the 14-16 year age group at 2.7%. The median age of initiation to tobacco products was found to be 10 years, while the minimum age was 8 years.
Source: NACADA, 2018
Trends in Tobacco Use Among Children Aged 13-15
The prevalence of cigarette use among adolescents (13-15 years) decreased from 6.6% in 2001 to 4.9% in 2013.
Tobacco Use in Children Aged 13 - 15
Use of Other Tobacco Products
Source: GYTS, 2001, 2007, 2013
The decrease in prevalence is attributed to the Tobacco Control Act, which came into force in 2007. The prevalence of cigarette use however remains higher among boys than girls. A similar trend (decrease in prevalence between 2003 and 2013) is observed in the prevalence of other tobacco products within the same age group. Both boys and girls, however, use these other tobacco products in equal measure. Global evidence shows that people perceive chewing tobacco to be less harmful than smoked tobacco.
*In 2001 and 2007, the survey focused on cigarette smoking and use of other tobacco products. In 2013, the survey focused on cigarette smoking, tobacco smoking and smokeless use. For the purposes of comparison, we have used smokeless values in 2013 in the ‘use of other products’ chart.
The Eastern, Central and Coast provinces had the highest prevalence of tobacco use at 16.4%, 13.0% and 13.2% respectively.
Prevalence of Tobacco Use by Province (15-49), 2014
- Tobacco Prevalence by Region|
- 0% - 4.69%
- 4.7% - 8.39%
- 8.4% - 13.29%
- 13.3% - 16.49%
- |Regions where tobacco is grown