Smoking industry: stats, facts & side effects for 2024

Learn all you need to know about smoking in our comprehensive guide. Discover the latest facts, statistics, and potential side effects.

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Smoking facts to understand the dangers of smoking

An overview of general smoking facts and statistics1-3

smoking industry key facts infographic

A few quick facts

  • Tobacco smoke contains more than 4,000 chemical compounds, which are present either as gases or as tiny particles
  • More people die due to smoking related illnesses then all the deaths due to the following combined:
    • HIV
    • car accidents
    • murder
    • suicide
    • alcohol use
    • drug abuse
  • 1 billion adults currently smoking (942 million men and 175 million women)
  • 721 million adults were smoking in 1980
  • US$200 billion annual spend on tobacco
  • 6.5 trillion cigarettes sold each year (18 Billion per day)
  • Smoking is responsible for 1 in 10 adult deaths worldwide
  • Half of the world’s 650 million smokers will die as a result of their habit
  • A 20 a day smoker would smoke 7,300 cigarettes per year. A life-long smoking habit of 40 years, would result in 292,000 cigarettes being smoked. This would total 14 miles of cigarettes if laid end to end
  • A 20 a day smoker inhales approximately 3 million lung-fulls of smoke in their shortened lifetime

Smoking prevalence in a few countries around the world 2022

smoking prevalence in china and kiribati graphsmoking prevalence in UK and USA graph

Graph of top 15 countries by the number of smokers
Top 12 countries by cigarettes smoked per capita p.a

Graph of top 12 countries by cigarettes smoked per capita

An overview of USA smoking facts and statistics

A few quick facts

  • Smoking causes more than 490,000 deaths each year which is nearly one in five deaths
  • Smoking causes more deaths each year than the deaths due to the following combined:
    • HIV
    • illegal drug use
    • alcohol use
    • motor vehicle injuries
    • firearm related incidents
  • Smoking has killed 10 times more US citizens than died in all the wars fought by the USA
  • More than 250,000 children (10-4 years old) use tobacco each day

An overview of UK smoking facts and statistics

A few quick facts

  • Every day, in the UK about 450 children start smoking – equivalent to one primary school EVERY day
  • 346,000 UK patients with smoking-related illnesses are admitted to hospital each year
  • In the UK every year around 115,000 smokers die as a result of their smoking – that’s more than 270 a day – the equivalent to a plane crashing every day and killing all its passengers
  • In England last year one in two deaths of smokers was due to smoking related diseases
  • Smoking costs £30 BILLION a year to the economy
  • In 2012-13 the UK Govt earned £12.3 BILLION in revenue from tobacco tax (including VAT)
  • Smoking kills around five times more people in the UK than all the following added together:
    • road traffic accidents
    • other accidents
    • poisoning and overdose
    • alcoholic liver disease
    • murder and manslaughter
    • suicide
    • HIV infection

    Click here for more UK Smoking statistics

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What are the side effects & risks of smoking cigarettes

Cigarettes contain nicotine and over 4,000 chemicals as well as releasing harmful gases such as carbon monoxide. These can lead to the following risks and issues4-10:

1. Blood circulation diseases

Smoking results in blood vessels constricting and narrowing limiting the blood that flows to your organs as well as thickening of the blood.

Short term

  • Increased tendency to clot
  • Increased blood pressure and heart rate
  • Thins arteries reducing oxygen circulation

Long term

  • Thins arteries reducing oxygen circulation
  • Atherosclerosis (plaque forms on the artery wall)
  • Increase in size of aorta
  • Increased risk of myeloid leukaemia (blood cancer)

2. Brain diseases

Smoking affects the efficiency of the limbic and paralimbic areas of the brain. These regions are responsible for attention, memory and learning.

Short term

  • Dizziness
  • Poor sleeping

Long term

  • Bad dreams and nightmares
  • Headaches
  • Doubles the risk of stroke
  • Increased risk of a brain aneurysm

3. Heart diseases

Smoking results in blood vessels constricting and narrowing limiting the blood that flows to the heart as well as thickening of the blood.

Short term

  • Chest pain
  • Uneven heartbeats

Long term

  • Doubles the risk of heart attack
  • Constriction of the coronary artery
  • Increases the risk of heart disease
  • Damages blood vessels
  • Damages arteries supplying blood to your brain

4. Stomach disease

Nicotine interacts with all parts of the digestive system leading to many harmful effects.

Short term

  • Hiccups or belching
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea

Long term

  • May lead to reduced appetite
  • Diarrhoea
  • Constipation
  • Heartburn
  • Ulceration
  • Increased risk of stomach cancer
  • One and a half times more likely to get kidney cancer

5. Reproduction

Smoking damages all parts of the reproductive system in both men and women including the genetic material of sperm cells.

Short term

  • Sperm and semen quality suffer
  • Egg cells damage
  • Affects the menstrual cycle making it more irregular

Long term

  • Decrease the sperm count
  • Reduction in the volume of sperm
  • Changes to cervical mucus (affects how sperm reaches the egg)
  • Problems with fallopian tubes
  • Increased risk of cervical cancer
  • Infertility in both men and women
  • Pregnancy complications

6. Lung disease

The smoke inhaled into the lungs together with the chemicals and nicotine all have damaging effects on the lungs.

Short term

  • Coughs
  • Colds
  • Wheezing
  • Asthma
  • Pneumonia

Long term

  • Emphysema
  • Lung cancer

7. Mouth & throat

The smoke inhaled into the mouth together with the chemicals and nicotine all have damaging effects on the mouth and throat.

Short term

  • Bad breath
  • Stained teeth
  • Throat or mouth soreness
  • Watery eyes or mouth
  • Coughing
  • Sneezing

Long term

  • Gum disease
  • Changes in taste
  • Increased risk of tongue cancer
  • Increased risk of throat cancer
  • Increased risk of voice box cancer
  • Increased risk of oesophagus cancer

8. Skin disease

The chemicals and nicotine over time have an accumulatively negative effect on the skin.

Short term

  • Looks grey and dull

Long term

  • Delayed wound healing
  • Increased infections
  • Causes cellulite
  • Ages more quickly
  • Three times more likely to get wrinkles

9. Bones disease

The chemicals and nicotine in smoking affect the metabolism of hormones, vitamin D levels, calcium absorption, blood circulation and thus significantly affects bone formation and healing.

Short term

  • Weakens bones

Long term

  • Increased risk of bones becoming weak and brittle
  • Osteoporosis

10. Other diseases

Taking nicotine has harmful effects on other parts of the body not least the immune system.

Short term

  • Suppression of the immune system

Long term

  • Increased risk of pancreatic cancer
  • Increased risk of breast cancer
  • Increased risk of colon and rectum cancer
  • Increased risk of developing cataracts
  • Increased risk of liver cancer

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Benefits of quitting and timescale

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