Facts About 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.

Key facts about smoking

  • Cigarette smoke contains over 4,800 chemicals, 69 of which are known to cause cancer. Smoking is directly responsible for approximately 90 percent of lung cancer deaths and approximately 80-90 percent of COPD (emphysema and chronic bronchitis) deaths.
  • Among adults who have ever smoked, 70% started smoking regularly at age 18 or younger, and 86% at age 21 or younger.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Smoking rates among adults and youth

  • In 2008, an estimated 46 million, or 20.6 percent of adults (aged 18+) were current smokers.
  • Men tend to smoke more than women. In 2008, 23.1 percent of men currently smoked compared to 18.3 percent of females.
  • Prevalence of current smoking in 2008 was highest among American Indians/Alaska Natives (32.4%), intermediate among non-Hispanic whites (22.0%) and non-Hispanic blacks (21.3%), and lowest among Hispanics (15.8%) and Asians (9.9%).
  • In 2007, 20 percent of high school students were current smokers.9 Over 6 percent of middle school students were current smokers in 2006.

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.
  • In 2005, 10.7 percent of all women smoked during pregnancy, down almost 45 percent from 1990.
  • 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.

Information provided by the American Lung Association