Smoking Facts

Graph to show smoking statistics

Choke on these jaw-dropping smoking facts

Laugh or cry these smoking statistics are real, and enough to make you scratch your head in wonderment at the quirkiness of the human race.

We all steer ourselves through life in different ways, and it should be nobody else's concern what we choose to do, as long as it doesn't harm others, and as long as we accept the consequences of our actions and are willing to pay for them.

Society is set up to protect us and others by constraints, advice and laws, but since time began people will still do what they want to do... often with unfortunate or utterly catastrophic results.

Our world's smoking facts

Life, from the beginning — rolling in the hay, to the end — pushing up daisies:

Pregnancy and babies
In U.S. alone, figures show that expectant mothers who smoke cause the deaths of over 600 boy babies and 400 baby girls each year. Babies who survive but suffer from smoking related problems cost the country approximately $800 each to help, totaling nearly $4 million.(3)

A UK survey shows the mean age for young people to try their first cigarette is 11 years old.

U.K. By age 12-13years, 31% of kids had tried smoking. This doubled to 59% by age 14-15.

Many smokers get angry once they are diagnosed with a life-threatening disease and they do some extraordinary things:

Take Barb Tarbox from Edmonton, Canada — ex-model, died of lung cancer aged 42 in 2003.

She spent the last 7 months of her life parading her slowly emaciating body and bald head due to radiation, around schools, TV spots, print ads and anywhere she could get the message across to try and stop, "even one child from picking up a cigarette," she said.

She made people cry at her appearances especially near the end when she couldn't walk or feed herself and had to be wheelchaired into halls to passionately speak.

She left a 10 year old daughter and husband of 20 years — and a lot of smokers there and then threw away their cigarettes.


  • Smoking statistics for 2005 show that 17% of Australians smoke. In 1993 this figure was higher at 25%.

  • Other drugs: Ecstasy has become popular and figures have risen in recent years. Other drugs have declined in use. Marijuana is tried by 11 % of Australians.(8)

  • NSW is the most populated state with 6 million people, and around 18% of the adults are smokers. This means a social and health burden to NSW taxpayers, families and businesses of $6.6 billion per year.

    In the latest figures, 6860 deaths were attributable to smoking and 353,180 hospital bed days were for people suffering tobacco-related illness, at a cost of $254 million.

    Of the total tangible costs of smoking, 58 per cent were borne by individuals, 29 per cent by business and only 13 per cent by governments.(4)

    150 smokers end up in hospital each day because of their habit.(5)

    NSW spent $7 million each year on prevention programs.(6)

The facts about smoking in China are scary and getting scarier by the minute:

  • It produces more tobacco than any other country.

  • It has an estimated 350 million smokers — that's 1 in 3 of the world's smokers.

  • 36% of the population smoke, including 70% of all Chinese men. Most of them have no knowledge of the facts about smoking or any awareness of the consequences they face.

  • More than one million people a year die in China from tobacco-related diseases, including lung cancer and heart disease.

  • These 1 million smokers were mainly aged 35-69 and this figure is predicted to increase to 2 mil in just 15 years.

  • In fact the biggest killer in China is lung cancer, beating road accidents (and if you drive in China, you'll know what this means!).(2)

CUBA — home of smooth cigars and black tobacco cigarettes:

  • In an effort to have Cubans live longer, Fidel Castro issued a stop smoking resolution back in Feb 2005, banning smoking in enclosed public spaces, such as halls, theatres, sports facilities, transport, and designated areas in clubs and restaurants. Cubans laughed at the idea and mostly ignored this attack on their sacred vice, and the authorities are not interested in enforcing the ban.

  • Castro himself quit chomping on cigars in 1986 to try and set a good example to other Cubans and to support his health ministry's anti-smoking efforts.

  • Cubans took no notice and currently 40% of the population of 11.2 million smoke.

  • The cheapest pack of cigs costs ½ a day's pay and one cheap cigar costs ¼ of a day's pay.

  • Smoking death statistics for Cubans, that cancer and heart disease are the leading causes of death, with the highest percentage caused by smoking.

  • Doctors are some of the heaviest smokers even though they were banned from smoking during work back in 1990.


  • 45,000 people die each year from COPD (chronic bronchitis and emphysema), or diseases precipitated by COPD, such as pneumonia, heart disease and stroke. Smoking is the leading cause of COPD. A smoker is 10 times more likely to die of COPD than a non-smoker. Global deaths are estimated to be 4.8 million.(7)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention publish interesting smoking facts. Here are some 2005 smoking statistics:

  • Approximately 20.9% (44.5 million) adults currently smoke. Of these, 81.3% (36.1 million) smoke every day, and 18.7% (8.3 million) smoke some days. Among those who currently smoke every day, 40.5% (14.6 million) report that they had stopped smoking for at least 1 day during the preceding 12 months because they were trying to quit. Among the estimated 42.4% (90.2 million) of persons who had ever smoked, 50.6% (45.6 million) were former smokers.(3)

  • More interesting smoking facts about population sub-groups in the US:Education: The highest group of smokers are those with the basic General Educational Development diploma (GED) — 40%, and 35% people with a 9th–11th grade education smoked, and smoking prevalence kept decreasing with increasing years of education. The lowest percentage of smokers was among those with graduate degrees at 7.5%.

    Gender: Current smoking was higher among men (23.4%) than women (18.5%).

    Race Among racial/ethnic populations, Asians (11.3%) and Hispanics (15.0%) had the lowest prevalence of current smoking. American Indians/Alaska Natives had the highest prevalence (33.4%), followed by non-Hispanic whites (22.2%) and non-Hispanic blacks (20.2%).

    General: Overall, the lowest smoking prevalence rates were in certain subpopulations and included women with undergraduate (11.0%) or graduate degrees (6.7%), men with graduate degrees (8.1%), Hispanic women (10.3%), Asian women (6.5%), and men and women over 65 years (10.1% and 8.3%, respectively).

    Income: Current smoking prevalence was higher among adults living below the poverty level (29.1%) than among those at or above the poverty level (20.6%).

    Usage: Heavy smokers, i.e. more than 25 cigarettes per day averaged 12.1%. The mean number of cigarettes smoked per day among daily smokers was 16.8 (18.1 cpd for men and 15.3 cpd for women). More than 20 billion packs of cigarettes are sold per year.

    Costs: For every packet of cigarettes smoked, add US$8.00 that society pays for medical and lost productivity costs. Thus the economic costs of smoking total approximately $3780 per smoker per year. This equates to over $160 billion in smoking health-related costs.

    Age: Among age groups, persons over 65 years had the lowest prevalence of cigarette smoking (9.1%); persons aged 18–24 came in at 23.9%; and persons aged 25-44 years had the highest prevalence (25.6%).

    Smoking deaths: Smoking kills approximately half a million people per year in U.S. Most of them die of lung cancer, heart disease or emphysema. Of these an estimated 10% are people who die of disease due to secondhand smoke. 46% more men are killed by smoking than women.


  • Facts about smoking deaths
    Smoking tops the list of premature deaths and disease in every country.

  • World smoking facts
    In the industrialized world in 2005, Australia has the fewest smokers — 17% of those over 15 light up. The highest incidence is in Holland (34%), with Hungary next (33%) and Korea third (30%).(8)

  • Smoking Holocaust
    Deaths caused by tobacco during a 5 year period are roughly 15 million.
    The Jewish Holocaust lasted 5 years and claimed 6 million lives.
    Producing tobacco products designed to kill more than 50% of their users is legal.

    Users of tobacco products choose to make a deliberate 50% gamble to kill themselves.

    Deliberate killing, even due to war is illegal and results in the death penalty or imprisonment for the murderers.

  • Smoking statistics on higher tobacco taxes
    It is a myth that raising the tax levied on tobacco products will produce a corresponding drop in consumption. There is usually a small drop to begin with but then no matter how high prices are raised, the demand by smokers becomes insensitive to the price after a while. Not only that, but the "black market" flourishes with suppliers of "tax-free" products.

    Cigarette smoke contains over 3,000 chemicals: Most of them are rather nasty such as:Nicotine - insecticide and used in cockroach and other insect killing products

    Formaldehyde – used as a fluid to embalm dead bodies

    Hydrogen cyanide – rat poison

    Acetone – dissolves certain substances and commonly found in nail polish removers

    Hydrazine – used in rocket fuel

    Smokers have less vitamin C than non-smokers.
    Although this has consistently been proved, researchers don't know why. Smokers 30% average depletion of vit C is either due to the fact that smokers generally eat a less healthy diet, or smoking stops vitamin C from being metabolized.

    Work Lost productivity: Smokers spend an average of 18 days a year on smoke breaks.

    Companies spend about 40 percent more on employer-paid health-care insurance for tobacco users.

    Tobacco CompaniesTobacco is unregulated. Tobacco companies are allowed to put whatever they like into their products. Where they have caused ire is where they have lied about the ingredients and quantities.

    In June 2001 the largest judgment ever made for an individual was to cancer-stricken smoker, Richard Boeken in the US who began smoking as a teenager in 1964. The Los Angeles court ordered Philip Morris to pay $3 billion to Boeken in punitive damages and $5.5 million in general damages.

    From 1935 onwards, scientist seriously began to amass undeniable evidence on the health risks of smoking and the US Congress slapped the surgeon general's warning label on cigarette packs in 1965.

    Pollution Smoking Facts
    Before smoking bans, which is more harmful — diesel and exhaust fumes or a smoky pub? You got it... enclosed smoky spaces such as bars and casinos have up to 50 times more cancer-causing particles in the air than roads. For tests, special detectors measured for two of the worst groups of chemicals:

    1. Particulate polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PPAHs. Indoor readings averaged 134 nanograms per cubic meter – 5 times higher than even rush hour and heavily polluted highways which came in as levels from 7 to 18 nanograms.

    2. Respirable particles — airborne soot small enough to penetrate the lungs. Indoor levels averaged 231 micrograms per cubic meter of air — 15 times the United States EPA safety limit, and 49 times rush hour traffic. Even in the crowded Baltimore Harbor Tunnel, 199 micrograms was the top reading. After the smoking ban took effect, levels of both cancer-causing substances dropped 90% or more in all of the indoor places tested, with the air quality nearly indistinguishable from outside air.(1)  

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