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Health Effects of Smoking


• Smoking harms nearly every organ of the body; causing many diseases and reducing the health of smokers in general.1 


• The adverse health effects from cigarette smoking account for an estimated 438,000 deaths, or nearly 1 of every 5 deaths, each year in the United States.2,3 


• More deaths are caused each year by tobacco use than by all deaths from human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), illegal drug use, alcohol use, motor vehicle injuries, suicides, and murders combined.2,4




• Cancer is the second leading cause of death and was among the first diseases causually linked to smoking.1


• Smoking causes about 90% of lung cancer deaths in men and almost 80% of lung cancer deaths in women. The risk of dying from lung cancer is more than 23 times higher among men who smoke cigarettes, and about 13 times higher among women who smoke cigarettes compared with never smokers.1


• Smoking causes cancers of the bladder, oral cavity, pharynx, larynx (voice box), esophagus, cervix, kidney, lung, pancreas, and stomach, and causes acute myeloid leukemia.1


• Rates of cancers related to cigarette smoking vary widely among members of racial/ethnic groups, but are generally highest in African-American men.5


Cardiovascular Disease (Heart and Circulatory System)


• Smoking causes coronary heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States.1 Cigarette smokers are 2–4 times more likely to develop coronary heart disease than nonsmokers.6


• Cigarette smoking approximately doubles a person's risk for stroke.7,8


• Cigarette smoking causes reduced circulation by narrowing the blood vessels (arteries). Smokers are more than 10 times as likely as nonsmokers to develop peripheral vascular disease.9


• Smoking causes abdominal aortic aneurysm.1


Respiratory Disease and Other Effects


• Cigarette smoking is associated with a tenfold increase in the risk of dying from chronic obstructive lung disease.7 About 90% of all deaths from chronic obstructive lung diseases are attributable to cigarette smoking.1


• Cigarette smoking has many adverse reproductive and early childhood effects, including an increased risk for infertility, preterm delivery, stillbirth, low birth weight, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).1


• Postmenopausal women who smoke have lower bone density than women who never smoked. Women who smoke have an increased risk for hip fracture than never smokers.10




1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Smoking: A Report of the Surgeon General. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2004 [accessed 2006 Dec 5].


2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Annual Smoking-Attributable Mortality, Years of Potential Life Lost, and Productivity Losses—United States, 1997–2001. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report [serial online]. 2002;51(14):300–303 [accessed 2006 Dec 5].


3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Health United States, 2003, With Chartbook on Trends in the Health of Americans.(PDF–225 KB) Hyattsville, MD: CDC, National Center for Health Statistics; 2003 [accessed 2006 Dec 5].


4. McGinnis J, Foege WH. Actual Causes of Death in the United States. Journal of the American Medical Association 1993;270:2207–2212.


5. Novotny TE, Giovino GA. Tobacco Use. In: Brownson RC, Remington PL, Davis JR (eds). Chronic Disease Epidemiology and Control. Washington, DC: American Public Health Association; 1998;117–148 [accessed 2006 Dec 5].


6. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Reducing the Health Consequences of Smoking—25 Years of Progress: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, CDC; 1989. DHHS Pub. No. (CDC) 89–8411 [accessed 2006 Dec 5].


7. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Tobacco Use Among U.S. Racial/Ethnic Minority Groups—African Americans, American Indians and Alaska Natives, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and Hispanics: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, CDC; 1998 [accessed 2006 Dec 5].


8. Ockene IS, Miller NH. Cigarette Smoking, Cardiovascular Disease, and Stroke: A Statement for Healthcare Professionals From the American Heart Association. Journal of American Health Association. 1997;96(9):3243–3247 [accessed 2006 Dec 5].


9. Fielding JE, Husten CG, Eriksen MP. Tobacco: Health Effects and Control. In: Maxcy KF, Rosenau MJ, Last JM, Wallace RB, Doebbling BN (eds.). Public Health and Preventive Medicine. New York: McGraw-Hill;1998;817–845 [accessed 2006 Dec 5].


10. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Women and Smoking: A Report of the Surgeon General. Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, CDC; 2001 [accessed 2006 Dec 5].