20.2% of the adult population are current smokers

There are approximately 8.3 million current smokers in South Africa

34.6% of men are current smokers but only 6.5% of women

Quick links to detailed datasheets for South Africa
Country profile
Data sourced: 2022.   Page updated: 2023-10-10

Smoking in South Africa

There has been a downwards trend in current smoking prevalence in the general population in South Africa. Smoking prevalence was 22% overall in 2000 and declined to 20% in 2015, with a further drop to 19% projected by 2025. For men the prevalence decreased from 35% in 2000 to 33% in 2015, with a further decrease to under 32% projected by 2025. For women prevalence was 11% in 2000; this decreased to around 8% in 2015, and is projected to decrease further to around 7% by 2025. The WHO published prevalence trend estimates in tobacco smoking, as shown here, in their 2018 2nd edition report, which show slightly different smoking prevalence to the WHO country profiles. Data for the estimates are not age standardised, and were obtained from WHO databases. The trend lines are projections, not predictions, of future attainment. A projection indicates a likely endpoint if the country maintains its tobacco control efforts at the same level that it has implemented them to date. Therefore the impact of recent interventions could alter the expected endpoint shown in the projection. While the methods of estimation used in the first and second editions of the WHO report are the same, the volume of data available for the second edition is larger i.e. 200 more national surveys. The results presented are therefore more robust.



In South Africa, 42181 people die each year due to tobacco smoking.

3.3 million €

Market size of NRT.

NRT market size is estimated to be 3.3 million €.

Nicotine Vaping Devices

in South Africa

If e-cigarettes are marketed as a therapeutic item, they are considered medicinal products, and are therefore regulated by the Medicines Control Council as schedule 3 medicines. However, non-medicinal e-cigarette products are currently unregulated. There are plans being proposed by the South African Government, and challenged by advocacy groups, to implement a common legislative framework for e-cigarettes and tobacco products which would be much stricter. The plans would restrict online sales and advertising, require neutral packaging and age restrictions, and prohibit vaping in public places.

Heated Tobacco Products

in South Africa

In South Africa, heated tobacco products are regulated as tobacco products in accordance with the Tobacco products Control Act 83 of 1993 (amended).

Nicotine Replacement Therapy

in South Africa

NRT market size is estimated to be 3.3 million €. In South Africa it is legal to purchase nicotine without using NRT prescription. NRT is legal to market. You can buy NRT in Pharmacy.


in South Africa

Snus is allowed. Snus is legal to use.


in South Africa

Pouches are allowed.

The GSTHR database is updated regularly by our team. However, please be aware that the information we provide does not constitute legal advice. We cannot guarantee that the information is up to date or accurate, as the regulatory status of different product categories can change at short notice and with little publicity. If you wish to check the legal status of use or possession of any safer nicotine product in a specific country or region, you should verify the information independently. If you have reason to think that the information supplied on the GSTHR is inaccurate, please contact us with details and any references and we will rectify any errors.