Five nonsmokers' paradises
A guide for serious globe-trotters
Passengers board a train for the journey from Djibouti to Addis Ababa, the capitol of Ethiopia. The trip takes about two days. (Tyler Hicks/Getty Images)
Countries with the lowest reported adult smokers, as you'll notice in the list below, don't all provide dream vacations. But there are some nice hangouts not far beyond the top 10.
The percentage of adult tobacco smokers in Barbados, the homeland of pop singer Rihanna, is 10.8%, according to a 2005 World Health Organization report. At No. 12, the island is the first on the list that is not on the African continent. We've listed some others at the end.
The WHO data that I used, covering 129 countries, were incomplete for several countries. Many of those are smaller or impoverished nations where tobacco may not be in widespread use.
Sure, none of the top five nonsmokers' paradises have Disneyland or, in some cases, the ubiquity of running water. But if you can't stand the stench of cigarette smoke, it's one thing you mostly won't have to worry about at these locales.
1. Ethiopia: This very well might be the first time that this landlocked African country was listed at the top of a travel guide. Just 4.3% of Ethiopians are tobacco users.
That could have something to do with the estimated 85 million inhabitants of this poverty-stricken country being more concerned with securing reliable food and water sources than with hourly cigarette breaks.
What Ethiopia does have are interesting archeological sites and a storied history.
2. Ghana: Adult tobacco use in this African country is at 5.5%. Like Ethiopia, Ghana is also fairly low on the international economic index, but at least it has a beach.
3. Republic of Congo: Half of the Republic of Congo's population makes less than $1.25 a day, according to a United Nations report last year. Is it surprising then that only 6.6% can afford to smoke? But if you do decide to make the trip, you'll want to stay away from the schools. Almost 24% of adolescents aged 13 to 15 smoke.
4. Nigeria: This West African country is not only the most populous on the continent, but it also has one of the fastest-growing economies. Nigerians haven't begun blowing their cash en masse on cigarettes yet, though--only 7.1% of adults are smokers.
5. Cameroon: Nigeria's neighbor to the east has a similar proportion of smokers, at 7.4%.
If you'd prefer a trip outside of Africa, the United Arab Emirates is at No. 22 and Fiji is at No. 23 on the list.. Further down the list, Ecuador is at No. 28, Egypt at No. 33 and the Dominican Republic at No. 35.
Between Egypt and Ecuador is Jamaica, with 15% of the population smoking. Maybe that low number is because some residents are too busy smoking something else.
For the record, the United States is near the middle of the pack at No. 56, with 23.9%. We're six spots below our neighbors to the north and five spots above our friends in Mexico.