Facts and Statistics about Smoking

Smoking Prevalence

Lit Cigarette Image - Photodisc

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 19 percent of adults over the age 18 in the United States smoke cigarettes (about 45.3 million people). Other statistics about smoking include the following:

  • More than 80 percent of smokers start before the age of 18.
  • Every day in the United States, about 3,800 people under the age of 18 try cigarettes for the first time and about 1,000 become regular smokers.
  • About 19.5 percent of high school students in the United States smoked cigarettes in the past month.
  • About 5.2 percent of middle school student in the United States smoked cigarettes in the past month.

The CDC reported in August 2014 that the more advertising sources depicting or promoting smoking to which teens and adolescents are exposed—the higher the likelihood that the young people express an intention to smoke cigarettes. For example, 13 percent of those who reported "no exposure" to smoking ads said they plan to smoke in the future, about 20 percent of those who reported exposure to one or two ads for smoking intend to smoke, and almost 26 percent who said they had been exposed to 3 or 4 sources of smoking ads said they plan to start smoking.

Statistics about the Health Effects of Smoking

  • The most common causes of death among smokers are cardiovascular (heart) diseases, tobacco-related cancers, and respiratory diseases.
  • About 430,000 deaths per year are linked to cigarette smoking.
  • In the United States, more people are killed each year by cigarettes than by alcohol, car crashes, suicide, AIDS, homicide, and illegal drugs combined.

In March 2012, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services reported that, from 1975 to 2000, nearly 800,000 deaths from lung cancer in the United States were prevented due to declines in smoking as a result of tobacco control programs and policies. This data was presented in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the research was funded by the NCI.

Statistics about Secondhand Smoke Effects

  • Secondhand smoke can immediately impair the normal flow of blood to the heart in non-smokers.
  • Secondhand smoke is responsible for about 3,400 lung cancer and 46,000 heart disease deaths per year in non-smokers in the United States.
  • In areas without "No Smoking" laws, levels of secondhand smoke in restaurants have been found to be 2–5 times greater than those in a home with smokers.
  • Each year in the United States, secondhand smoke causes between 150,000 and 300,000 cases of bronchitis and pneumonia in children younger than 18 months and results in 7,000–15,000 hospitalizations.
  • About 1,900–2,700 infants die of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) each year due to secondhand smoke.

Quit Smoking Facts

  • Among adult smokers in the United States, more than 68 percent report wanting to quit smoking completely.
  • Cigarette sales dropped by an average of 43 percent in 4 states where strong tobacco control programs were funded and maintained.
  • Most successful ex-smokers have tried to quit an average of 7 times before they were successful.
  • Smoking withdrawal symptoms usually peak at 3 days and then begin to subside.
  • Smokers who also suffer from depression have a more difficult time quitting than smokers who are not depressed.

Sources: Statistics are from the American Cancer Society, the American Lung Association, the American Heart Association, or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Publication Review By: Karen Larson, M.D., Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 14 Jul 2006

Last Modified: 01 Oct 2015