In the next hour, 50 people will die because of tobacco. Tobacco is a risk factor for some 25 diseases, and while its effects on health are well known, the scale of its impact on global disease may not be fully appreciated. Tobacco as a risk factor is expected to make a greater claim on health than any single disease. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports the worldwide death toll from tobacco use is 4 million annually. This is far greater than the number of fatalities from all illegal drugs and alcohol combined. The death toll is expected to rise to 10 million per year by the 2020’s or early 2030’s, with 7 million deaths occurring in developing countries. The WHO estimates that there are approximately 1.1 billion regular smokers in the world, which is one-third of the global population aged 15 years and older.

Worldwide, 47 percent of men and 12 percent of women smoke a total of 6 trillion cigarettes a year. In the U.S., 600 billion cigarettes are smoked every year.

World Health Organization, 1999).

About four million people die worldwide each year as a result of smoking. In the United States, tobacco use is responsible for nearly one in five deaths, killing more than 490,000 Americans each year.

(Institute of Medicine 2007) This is more than the number of people who would die every year if three jumbo jets crashed each day with no survivors.

The report from the Institute of Medicine (2007) says that tobacco kills more Americans annually than AIDS, alcohol, cocaine, heroin, homicides, suicides, car accidents, and fires combined.

Nationally, tobacco contributes to about one-third of U.S. cancer, one-quarter of heart disease and about 490,000 premature deaths each year. Tobacco is a known cause of lung, bladder, mouth, pharyngeal, pancreatic, kidney, stomach, laryngeal, and esophageal cancer. About ten million people in the U.S. have died from causes attributed to smoking and tobacco use (including heart disease, emphysema, and other respiratory diseases) since 1964. Two million of these deaths were the result of lung cancer alone. Tobacco is the most global cause of cancer, and it is preventable. Despite widespread knowledge of the risk that tobacco exposure and use poses, it is single-handedly responsible for wide spread disease, rampant drug addiction, an alarming death rate, substantial economic burden and reduction of the quality of life worldwide.

Secondhand smoke

Secondhand smoke kills as many as 62,000 Americans annually from heart disease. (CalEPA, 1997).

Measurements of the carbon monoxide (CO) concentration at a cigar party and a cigar banquet in a restaurant showed indoor CO levels comparable to those measured on a crowded California freeway.”

“Some 88% of the non-smoking U.S. population has cotinine(indicator of exposure to tobacco smoke) in their blood.” (Pirke et al., 1996).

Tobacco smoke is as dangerous to non-smokers as firsthand smoke is to smokers themselves. The EPA has classified tobacco smoke (containing 43 carcinogens) as a Class A carcinogen – a known cause of human cancer.

The detrimental health effects of exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) are well documented and include lung cancer and coronary heart disease among adults, low birth weight and sudden infant death syndrome from e