Missouri State University

Facts About Tobacco Use

Tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of disease, disability, and death in the United States. Each year, an estimated 443,000 people die prematurely from smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke, and another 8.6 million have a serious illness caused by smoking. Despite these risks, approximately 46 million U.S. adults smoke cigarettes. Smokeless tobacco, cigars, and pipes also have deadly consequences, including lung, larynx, esophageal, and oral cancers.

The harmful effects of smoking do not end with the smoker. More than 126 million nonsmoking Americans, including children and adults, are regularly exposed to secondhand smoke. Even brief exposure can be dangerous because nonsmokers inhale many of the same carcinogens and toxins in cigarette smoke as smokers.

Secondhand smoke exposure causes serious disease and death, including heart disease and lung cancer in nonsmoking adults and sudden infant death syndrome, acute respiratory infections, ear problems, and more frequent and severe asthma attacks in children. Each year, primarily because of exposure to secondhand smoke, an estimated 3,000 nonsmoking Americans die of lung cancer, more than 46,000 die of heart disease, and about 150,000–300,000 children younger than 18 months have lower respiratory tract infections.

Coupled with this enormous health toll is the significant economic burden of tobacco use—more than $96 billion per year in medical expenditures and another $97 billion per year resulting from lost productivity.

Center for Disease Control and Prevention