Addiction Nicotine Use Smoking-Related Diseases Important Statistics About Cigarette Smoking By Terry Martin Terry Martin Facebook Twitter Terry Martin quit smoking after 26 years and is now an advocate for those seeking freedom from nicotine addiction. Learn about our editorial process Updated on September 17, 2020 Fact checked Verywell Mind content is rigorously reviewed by a team of qualified and experienced fact checkers. Fact checkers review articles for factual accuracy, relevance, and timeliness. We rely on the most current and reputable sources, which are cited in the text and listed at the bottom of each article. Content is fact checked after it has been edited and before publication. Learn more. by Andrea Rice Fact checked by Andrea Rice Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Andrea Rice is an award-winning journalist and a freelance writer, editor, and fact-checker specializing in health and wellness. Learn about our editorial process Print Peter Dazeley/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images As of December 20, 2019, the new legal age limit is 21 years old for purchasing cigarettes, cigars, or any other tobacco products in the United States. We all know that smoking cigarettes is detrimental to health and in many cases, deadly, killing two-thirds of all people who don't quit. Over 7,000 chemicals have been identified in cigarettes and cigarette smoke to date, 93 of which are harmful or potentially harmful, and more than 70 of which can cause cancer. These ingredients and additives affect everything from the internal functioning of your organs to the efficiency of your body's immune system. Some of the facts and statistics about smoking may surprise you. Toxic Ingredients in Cigarette Smoke The chemicals in cigarette smoke are inhaled into the lungs and from there travel throughout the body, causing damage to the following: Nicotine reaches the brain in 10 to 20 seconds after smoke is inhaled. Nicotine enters the bloodstream and is carried to every part of a smoker's body, including breast milk. Nicotine is also highly addictive, and is as hard to quit as heroin. Carbon monoxide, which is present in cigarette smoke, binds to hemoglobin in red blood cells, preventing these cells from carrying all of the oxygen they normally would. This can lead to symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning. Cancer-causing agents (carcinogens) in tobacco smoke damage important genes that control the growth of cells, causing them to grow abnormally or to reproduce too rapidly. More than 70 such cancer-causing chemicals have been identified in cigarette smoke to date. Smoking affects how the immune system functions by causing oxidative stress. This, in turn, causes DNA mutation, setting the stage for cancer and heart disease. Oxidative stress is also thought to be a contributor to the aging process, as smokers have fewer antioxidants—nature's way of combating the damage oxidative stress causes to the body's cells—in their blood than non-smokers. Smoking is associated with higher levels of chronic inflammation, another damaging process that may result in oxidative stress. Cigarette smoke contains radioactive elements (lead-210 and polonium-210) and toxic heavy metals that "stick" to the tar that collects in the lungs of smokers. Over time, this builds up and is believed to be one of the risk factors for lung cancer in smokers. Increased Health Risks Smokers face a substantial increase in their risk for a number of diseases over those who don't smoke: Coronary heart disease: 2 to 4 times Stroke: 2 to 4 times Lung cancer risk for men: 25 times Lung cancer risk for women: 25.7 times Death from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD): 12 to 13 times The Health Benefits of Smoking Cessation Cigarette Smoking and Death Smoking tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death in the world today. Here are the statistics on smoking cigarettes and the number of deaths caused by smoking: In the U.S., cigarette smoking accounts for approximately 480,000 deaths a year. Globally, nearly 5.5 million people die from tobacco use annually, and if current trends continue, that number is expected to increase to eight million by the year 2030.One-third of all cancer-related deaths are due to smoking.Lung cancer is largely a smoker's disease; 90% of men and 80% of women who are diagnosed with lung cancer had smoked.COPD-related deaths are also primarily caused by smoking, with around 8 in 10 of these deaths traced back to cigarettes.Smokers die 10 years sooner than non-smokers, on average.More than 41,000 die per year from exposure to secondhand smoke. Tobacco use is responsible for more deaths each year in the U.S. than all of the following combined: Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), motor vehicle injuries, alcohol use, firearm-related incidents, and illegal drug use. Reasons Why You Should Consider Quitting Smoking 14 Sources Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Jha P. The hazards of smoking and the benefits of cessation: a critical summation of the epidemiological evidence in high-income countries. eLife. 2020;9. doi:10.7554/eLife.49979 U.S. Food & Drug Administration. Chemicals in Cigarettes: From Plant to Product to Puff. Primo CC, Ruela PB, Brotto LD, Garcia TR, Lima Ede F. Effects of maternal nicotine on breastfeeding infants. Rev Paul Pediatr. 2013;31(3):392-397. doi:10.1590/S0103-05822013000300018 American Heart Association. Why it's so hard to quit smoking. Bavarva JH, Tae H, Mciver L, Garner HR. Nicotine and oxidative stress induced exomic variations are concordant and overrepresented in cancer-associated genes. Oncotarget. 2014;5(13):4788-4798. doi:10.18632/oncotarget.2033 Lee J, Taneja V, Vassallo R. Cigarette Smoking and Inflammation: Cellular and Molecular Mechanisms. J Dent Res. 2012;91(2):142-149. doi:10.1177/0022034511421200 Caruso RV, O'Connor RJ, Stephens WE, Cummings KM, Fong GT. Toxic Metal Concentrations in Cigarettes Obtained from U.S. Smokers in 2009: Results from the International Tobacco Control (ITC) United States Survey Cohort. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2013;11(1):202-217. doi:10.3390/ijerph110100202 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Health Effects of Cigarette Smoking. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Global Tobacco Control. Jacobs EJ, Newton CC, Carter BD, et al. What proportion of cancer deaths in the contemporary United States is attributable to cigarette smoking? Ann Epidemiol. 2015;25(3):179-182. doi:10.1016/j.annepidem.2014.11.008 American Lung Association. Lung Cancer Fact Sheet. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Smoking and COPD. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Fast Facts. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Health Effects of Cigarette Smoking. By Terry Martin Terry Martin quit smoking after 26 years and is now an advocate for those seeking freedom from nicotine addiction. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? Other Helpful Report an Error Submit Get Treatment for Addiction Advertiser Disclosure × The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Verywell Mind receives compensation.