Cigarette smoking harms nearly every organ of the body, causes many diseases, and reduces the health of smokers in general.1,2
Quitting smoking lowers your risk for smoking-related diseases and can add years to your life.1,2
Smoking and Deaths
Cigarette smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States.
- Cigarette smoking causes more than 440,000 deaths each year in the United States. This is about one in five deaths.2,3,4
- Smoking causes more deaths each year than all of these combined:5
- Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
- Illegal drug use
- Alcohol use
- Motor vehicle injuries
- Firearm-related incidents
- Smoking causes about 90% (or 9 out of 10) of all lung cancer deaths in men1,2 and 80% (or 8 out of 10) of all lung cancer deaths in women.1 More women die from lung cancer each year than from breast cancer.6
- About 90% (or 9 out of 10) of all deaths from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are caused by smoking.1
Smoking and Increased Health Risks
Smokers are more likely than nonsmokers to develop heart disease, stroke, and lung cancer.
- Cigarette smoking is estimated to increase the risk—
- For coronary heart disease by 2 to 4 times1,7
- For stroke by 2 to 4 times1
- Of men developing lung cancer by 23 times1
- Of women developing lung cancer by 13 times1
Smoking and Cardiovascular Disease
Cigarette smokers are at greater risk for diseases that affect the heart and blood vessels (cardiovascular disease).1,2
- Smoking causes stroke and coronary heart disease—the leading causes of death in the United States.1,4
- Smoking damages blood vessels and can make them thicken and grow narrower. This makes your heart beat faster and your blood pressure go up. Clots can also form.
- A heart attack occurs when a clot blocks the blood flow to your heart. When this happens, your heart cannot get enough oxygen. This damages the heart muscle, and part of the heart muscle can die.
- A stroke occurs when a clot blocks the blood flow to part of your brain or when a blood vessel in or around your brain bursts.
- Blockages caused by smoking can also reduce blood flow to your legs and skin.1,2
Smoking and Respiratory Disease
Smoking can cause lung disease by damaging your airways and the small air sacs (alveoli) found in your lungs.1,2
- Lung diseases caused by smoking include COPD, which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis.1,2
- Cigarette smoking causes most cases of lung cancer.1,2
- If you have asthma, tobacco smoke can trigger an attack or make an attack worse.1
- Smokers are 12 to 13 times more likely to die from COPD than nonsmokers.1
Smoking and Cancer
Cigarette smoking can cause cancer almost anywhere in your body, including:2
- Bone marrow and blood
- Kidneys and ureters
- Larynx (voice box)
- Mouth, nose, and throat
If nobody smoked, one of every three cancer deaths in the United States would not happen.2
Smoking and Other Health Risks
Cigarette smoking harms nearly every organ of the body and affects a person’s overall health.1,2
- Smoking can make it harder for a woman to become pregnant and can affect her baby's health before and after birth. Smoking increases risks for—1,2,6
- Preterm (early) delivery
- Stillbirth (death of the baby before birth)
- Low birth weight
- Sudden infant death syndrome (known as SIDS or crib death)
- Smoking can also affect men's sperm, which can reduce fertility and also increase risks for birth defects and miscarriage (loss of the pregnancy).2
- Smoking can affect bone health.1,6
- Women past childbearing years who smoke have lower bone density (weaker bones) than women who never smoked and are at greater risk for broken bones.
- Smoking affects the health of your teeth and gums and can cause tooth loss.1
- Smoking can increase your risk for cataracts (clouding of the eye’s lens that makes it hard for you to see).1
- Smoking can make diabetes harder to control.2
Quitting and Reduced Risks
- Quitting smoking cuts cardiovascular risks. Just 1 year after quitting smoking, your risk for a heart attack drops sharply.2
- Within 2 to 5 years after quitting smoking, your risk for stroke could fall to about the same as a nonsmoker’s.2
- If you quit smoking, your risks for cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder drop by half within 5 years.2
- Ten years after you quit smoking, your risk for lung cancer drops by half.2
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Smoking: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta: 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 2013 Dec 17].
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease: What It Means to You. Atlanta: 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, 2010 [accessed 2013 Dec 17].
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Annual Smoking-Attributable Mortality, Years of Potential Life Lost, and Productivity Losses—United States, 2000–2004. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 2008;57(45):1226–8 [accessed 2013 Dec 17].
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. QuickStats: Number of Deaths from 10 Leading Causes–National Vital Statistics System, United States, 2010. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 2013:62(08);155. [accessed 2013 Dec 17].
- Mokdad AH, Marks JS, Stroup DF, Gerberding JL. Actual Causes of Death in the United States. JAMA: Journal of the American Medical Association 2004;291(10):1238–45 [cited 2013 Dec 17].
- 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, Public Health Service, Office of the Surgeon General, 2001 [accessed 2013 Dec 17].
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Reducing the Health Consequences of Smoking: 25 Years of Progress. A Report of the Surgeon General. Rockville (MD): U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 1989 [accessed 2013 Dec 17].
For Further Information
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion
Office on Smoking and Health
Michigan Department of Health & Human Services
Tobacco Control Program
Free Smoking Calculator
This webpage was adapted from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention page here.