25 Disturbing World Smoking Facts

How Cigarettes Affect Health and Society

Smoking Kills on a Cigarette Box

Les Cunliffe / age fotostock / Getty Images

If you are still on the fence when it comes to quitting cigarettes, think again. While you may think that it's an issue you can deal with later, the current evidence suggests that time is not on your side. 

While you should always approach smoking cessation as a positive step toward a longer and healthier life, it is equally important to understand the consequences of inaction.

By doing so, you can make a more informed choice and take the steps needed to kick the habit once and for all. Don't take our word for it. Let the numbers speak for themselves.

25 Global Smoking Facts and Statistics

  1. There are 1.1 billion smokers in the world today, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). If the trend continues, that number is expected to increase to 1.6 billion by the year 2025.
  2. Tobacco kills more than six million people each year, translating to one smoking-related death every five seconds. That is a million more deaths than occurs each year as a result of HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria combined.
  3. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 37.8 million smokers in the United States in 2016.
  4. Over 16 million Americans are currently living with a tobacco-related disease, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD).
  5. Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, and West Virginia are eight states where at least 21.8 percent of adults are smokers. Of these, West Virginia leads the pack, wherein one of every four adults is a current smoker.
  6. More than 480,000 Americans die each year of smoking, accounting for one of every five deaths.
  7. On average, smoking will cut 13 years from your life expectancy. If you have HIV, that number will increase to 16 years.
  8. Lung cancer is not the only malignancy you can get from smoking. Others include cancer of the bladder, blood, bone marrow, cervix, colon, esophagus, kidneys, larynx, liver, mouth, pancreas, rectum, stomach, and throat.
  9. In addition to cancer, smoking can increase your risk of coronary heart disease and stroke by anywhere from 200 percent to 400 percent.
  10. Smoking is a problem that hits poorer people hardest. In fact, 80 percent of the world's smokers live in low- to medium-income countries. Even in the U.S., 24.3 percent of people living below the poverty line are smokers compared to 14.3 percent of those living above the poverty line.
  11. China is home to 300 million smokers who consume approximately 1.7 trillion cigarettes annually or roughly three million cigarettes per minute. One of every three cigarettes smoked globally is in China.
  12. Worldwide, around 10 million cigarettes are purchased per minute, 15 billion are sold per day, and upwards of five trillion are produced and used every year.
  13. A typical cigarette can contain anywhere from eight to nine milligrams of nicotine. By contrast, the nicotine content is a cigar can run anywhere from 100 milligrams to 400 milligrams.
  14. According to a study published in the Archives of Toxicology, there is enough nicotine in five cigarettes to kill an average adult if ingested whole. With that being said, most smokers take in an average of one to two milligrams per cigarette of which 0.03 milligrams is absorbed into the bloodstream.
  15. There are more than 4,000 chemicals in tobacco smoke, of which more than 250 are known to be harmful, more than 50 are known to cause cancer, and 11 are classified as Group I carcinogens.
  16. Benzene is a major cause of acute myeloid leukemia. Not surprisingly, cigarette smoke is the major source of benzene. Among smokers in the United States, 90 percent of their benzene exposure will come from cigarettes.
  17. Radioactive lead, polonium, and hydrogen cyanide can all be found in cigarette smoke. History buffs will recognize hydrogen cyanide as a compound used back in World War II as a genocidal agent.
  18. Of the six million smoking-related death reported around the world each year, 890,000 (or roughly 15 percent) are the result of secondhand smoke. Despite what some may tell you, there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke
  19. Tobacco costs the U.S. economy more than $300 billion dollars each year. Of this, $170 billion goes toward medical care, while more than $156 billion is attributed to lost productivity due to illness and death.
  20. While fewer young adults are smoking cigarettes in the U.S. today, over 3,200 teens and adolescents try their first cigarette every day. It's estimated that 2,100 of these will go on to become daily smokers.
  21. Statistics suggest that 5.6 million children living today in the U.S. will die of a smoking-related disease. That is equal to one of every 13 children.
  22. Approximately a quarter of the youth living in the Western Pacific Region (comprised of East Asia, the Pacific, and Oceana) will die from tobacco use.
  23. Only 20 percent of the world's population is protected by smoking laws, mostly in high-income countries.
  24. Globally, tobacco use has claimed more than 100 million lives in the 20th century. It is expected to claim another billion during the 21st century unless serious anti-smoking efforts are made on a global scale.
  25. The WHO has concluded that half of all smokers will die as a result of tobacco use.

If you're a smoker who is wishing to quit, make your mind up to dig your heels in and do the work need to stop smoking today. You will not regret it.

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Article Sources

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Current Cigarette Smoking Among Adults—United States, 2016. MMWR. 2018;67(2):53-9.

  2. Mayer, B. How much nicotine kills a human? Tracing back the generally accepted lethal dose to dubious self-experiments in the nineteenth century.Arch Toxicol. 2014; 88(1):5-7. DOI: 10.1007/s00204-013-1127-0.

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