24 Disturbing World Smoking Facts

How Smoking Affects Health, Mortality and Society

Les Cunliffe/age fotostock/Getty Images

If you're thinking that it's time to quit smoking, or have just quit and need some motivation to keep going, use the smoking facts below to fuel the fire in your belly that will help you beat nicotine addiction, once and for all.

24 Disturbing World Smoking Facts

1) There are 1.1 billion smokers in the world today, and if current trends continue, that number is expected to increase to 1.6 billion by the year 2025.

2) China is home to 300 million smokers who consume approximately 1.7 trillion cigarettes a year, or 3 million cigarettes a minute. One in three cigarettes smoked globally is in China.

3) Worldwide, approximately 10 million cigarettes are purchased a minute, 15 billion are sold each day, and upwards of 5 trillion are produced and used on an annual basis.

4) A typical manufactured cigarette contains approximately 8 or 9 milligrams of nicotine, while the nicotine content of a cigar is 100 to 200 milligrams, with some as high as 400 milligrams.

5) There is enough nicotine in four or five cigarettes to kill an average adult if ingested whole. Most smokers take in only one or two milligrams of nicotine per cigarette however, with the remainder being burned off.

6) Ambergris, otherwise known as whale dung is one of the hundreds of possible additives used in manufactured cigarettes.

7)Benzene is a known cause of acute myeloid leukemia, and cigarette smoke is a major source of benzene exposure.

Among U.S. smokers, 90 percent of benzene exposures come from cigarettes.

8) Radioactive lead and polonium are both present in low levels in cigarette smoke.

9) Hydrogen cyanide, one of the toxic byproducts present in cigarette smoke, was used as a genocidal chemical agent during World War II.

10) The smoke from a smoldering cigarette often contains higher concentrations of the toxins found in cigarette smoke than exhaled smoke does.

11) Secondhand smoke contains more than 70 cancer-causing chemical compounds, 11 of which are known to be Group 1 carcinogens.

12) In the United States today, tobacco costs society north of $300 billion dollars. $170 billion goes to medical care and more than $156 billion is attributed to lost productivity due to death and secondhand smoke exposure.

13) Each year, 3000 non-smokers die of lung cancer primarily caused by secondhand smoke. More than 33,000 non-smokers die of secondhand smoke-related heart disease.

14) A pack of cigarettes costs an average of $6.36 in the U.S. today.  The cost to society in health-related care and lost productivity is closer to $35 per pack.

15) Cigarette smoking is a risk factor for tuberculosis, and for dying from it.

16) Approximately 8 of 10 COPD deaths are a result of smoking.  There is no cure for COPD, though if smokers quit early in the development of this disease, they can slow or halt further damage.

17) Fewer young people are smoking these days, but kids 18 years old and younger are still trying their first cigarette at the alarming rate of 3,200 a day in the United States. It's estimated that 2100 of them go on to become daily smokers...each day.

18) Statistics tell us that 5.6 million children alive today in the U.S. will die of a smoking-related disease. That is equal to 1 in 13 kids living in the U.S. today.

19) Approximately one quarter of the youth alive in the Western Pacific Region (East Asia and the Pacific) today will die from tobacco use.

20) Before it kills us, tobacco usually offers us plenty of suffering.  Approximately 16 million Americans are living with a tobacco-related disease right now. Or put another way, for every death, 30 people live with a disease caused by tobacco.

21) Half of all long-term smokers will die a tobacco-related death.

22) Every 5 seconds, a human life is lost to tobacco use somewhere in the world. That translates to approximately 6 million deaths annually. This number includes 600,000 non-smokers who die from diseases related to secondhand smoke exposure.  In 2004, children comprised 28 percent of those non-smoker deaths.

23) Smokers die 13 or 14 years before their non-smoking friends and family, on average.

24) Tobacco use claimed 100 million lives during the 20th century around the world.  It is expected to claim one billion lives during the 21st century unless serious anti-smoking efforts are made on a global level.

Take Your Life Back

As smokers, we learn early on to put up a mental wall of denial between our smoking habit and the harsh reality of the damage we're inflicting on ourselves with every cigarette smoked.

We tell ourselves lies that allow us smoke with some level of comfort. We say we have time to quit...that cancer doesn't run in our family...that we can stop any time we want to...that the bad things happen to other people. And because smoking is typically a slow killer, those lies support the framework of our wall of denial for years and years.

Eventually though, most smokers find that the wall begins to crumble, and bit by bit, smoking becomes a fearful, anxious activity. This is when most smokers start seriously thinking about how they might find a way to quit smoking for good.

A crucial step in the recovery process from nicotine addiction involves breaking through that wall of denial to put smoking in the proper light. We need to learn to see our cigarettes not as the friend or buddy we can't live without, but as the horrific killers they truly are.

If you're a smoker wishing you could quit, make your mind up to dig your heels in and do the work necessary to quit smoking now. You'll never regret it.


Tobacco: The True Cost of Smoking. American Cancer Society. Accessed July 2016.

Cigarette Litter - Biodegradable? Accessed July 2016. Clean Virginia Waterways - Longwood University.

The Health Consequences of Smoking: A Report of the Surgeon General 2004. Dept. of Health and Human Resources - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Smoking and Tobacco Use: Fast Facts Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed July 2016.

Tobacco Facts and Figures. Accessed July 2016. BeTobaccoFree.gov.

The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke: A Report of the Surgeon Generals 04 Jan 2007. U.S. Dept of Health and Human Services.