Smoking

Cigarette smoking is the number one cause of preventable disease and death worldwide. Smoking-related diseases claim over 393,000 American lives each year. Smoking cost the United States over $193 billion in 2004, including $97 billion in lost productivity and $96 billion in direct health care expenditures, or an average of $4,260 per adult smoker.1

Key Facts About Smoking

  • Cigarette smoke contains over 7,000 chemicals, 69 of which are known to cause cancer.19 Smoking is directly responsible for approximately 90 percent of lung cancer deaths and approximately 80-90 percent of COPD (emphysema and chronic bronchitis) deaths.2
  • Among adults who have ever smoked, 70% started smoking regularly at age 18 or younger, and 86% at age 21 or younger.3
  • Among current smokers, chronic lung disease accounts for 73 percent of smoking-related conditions. Even among smokers who have quit chronic lung disease accounts for 50 percent of smoking-related conditions.4
  • Smoking harms nearly every organ in the body, and is a main cause of lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD, including chronic bronchitis and emphysema). It is also a cause of coronary heart disease, stroke and a host of other cancers and diseases.5

Smoking Rates Among Adults & Youth

  • In 2009, an estimated 46.6 million, or 20.6 percent of adults (aged 18+) were current smokers.6
  • Men tend to smoke more than women. In 2009, 23.5 percent of men currently smoked compared to 17.9 percent of females.7
  • Prevalence of current smoking in 2009 was highest among non-Hispanic whites (22.2%) intermediate among non-Hispanic blacks (21.3%), and lowest among Hispanics (14.5%) and Asians (12.0%).8
  • In 2009, 19.5 percent of high school students were current smokers.9 Over 5 percent of middle school students were current smokers in 2009.10

Smoking During Pregnancy

  • Smoking in pregnancy accounts for an estimated 20 to 30 percent of low-birth weight babies, up to 14 percent of preterm deliveries, and some 10 percent of all infant deaths. Even apparently healthy, full-term babies of smokers have been found to be born with narrowed airways and reduced lung function.11
  • In 2005, 10.7 percent of all women smoked during pregnancy, down almost 45 percent from 1990.12
  • Neonatal health-care costs attributable to maternal smoking in the U.S. have been estimated at $366 million per year, or $704 per maternal smoker.13

Facts About Quitting Smoking

  • Nicotine is the ingredient in cigarettes that causes addiction. Smokers not only become physically addicted to nicotine; they also link smoking with many social activities, making smoking an extremely difficult addiction to break.14
  • In 2009, an estimated 49.9 million adults were former smokers. Of the 46.6 million current adult smokers, 46.7 percent stopped smoking at least 1 day in the preceding year because they were trying to quit smoking completely.15
  • Quitting smoking often requires multiple attempts. Using counseling or medication alone increases the chance of a quit attempt being successful; the combination of both is even more effective.16
  • There are seven medications approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to aid in quitting smoking. Nicotine patches, nicotine gum and nicotine lozenges are available over-the-counter, and a nicotine nasal spray and inhaler are currently available by prescription. Buproprion SR (Zyban) and varenicline (Chantix) are non-nicotine pills.17
  • Individual, group and telephone counseling are effective. Telephone quitline counseling is widely available and is effective for many different groups of smokers.18

The American Lung Association has more information available on quitting smoking and our programs to help you do so, our advocacy efforts to reduce tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke, and tobacco use trends on our website at www.lung.org, or through the Lung HelpLine at 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872).

Sources:

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Smoking-Attributable Mortality, Years of Potential Life Lost, and Productivity Losses — United States, 2000–2004. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. November 14, 2008; 57(45):1226–28.
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Tobacco Information and Prevention Source (TIPS). Tobacco Use in the United States. January 27, 2004.
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Center for Health Statistics. National Health Interview Survey Raw Data, 2009. Analysis by the American Lung Association, Research and Program Services Division using SPSS and SUDAAN software.
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cigarette Smoking Attributable Morbidity—United States, 2000. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. September 5, 2003; 52(35).
  5. U.S Department of Health and Human Services. Health Consequences of Smoking: A Report of the Surgeon General, 2004.
  6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Center for Health Statistics. National Health Interview Survey Raw Data, 2009. Analysis by the American Lung Association, Research and Program Services Division using SPSS and SUDAAN software.
  7. Ibid.
  8. Ibid.
  9. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance — United States, 2009. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. June 4, 2010; 59(SS-05).
  10. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Office on Smoking and Health. National Youth Tobacco Survey, 2009. Analysis by the American Lung Association, Research and Program Services Division using SPSS software.
  11. U.S Department of Health and Human Services. Women and Smoking: A Report of the Surgeon General, 2001.
  12. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Center for Health Statistics. National Vital Statistics Reports. Births: Final Data for 2005. December 5, 2007; (56)5.
  13. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. State Estimates of Neonatal Health-Care Costs Associated with Maternal Smoking—United States, 1996. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. October 8, 2004; 53(39).
  14. National Institute of Drug Abuse. Research Report on Nicotine: Addiction, August 2001.
  15. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Center for Health Statistics. National Health Interview Survey Raw Data, 2009. Analysis by the American Lung Association, Research and Program Services Division using SPSS and SUDAAN software.
  16. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Smoking and Tobacco Use. You Can Quit Smoking. Accessed on October 2, 2007.
  17. Fiore MC, Jaen CR, Baker TB, et al. Treating Tobacco Use and Dependence: 2008 Update. Clinical Practice Guideline. Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Public Health Service. May 2008.
  18. Ibid.
  19. U.S Department of Health and Human Services. How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease: The Biology and Behavioral Basis for Smoking-Attributable Disease: A Report of the Surgeon General, 2010.

Note: Racial and ethnic minority terminology reflects those terms used by the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention.