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How Many People Die from Smoking?

Ever wonder how many people die from smoking? The number is shocking. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that each year more than 6 million people die from smoking and tobacco use worldwide. By 2030, the expectation is this number increases to 8 million people per year.

Smoking Kills More People than War *

The Tobacco Atlas notes that worldwide tobacco use killed 100 million people in the 20th century. This is more deaths than the total killed during WWI and WWII, including all the people murdered by Hitler and Stalin. One can even add those killed in the Korean War and the war in Vietnam to the total. Tobacco use killed more people that all these horrors combined.

Here are the estimated numbers for comparison:

how many people die from smokingThe estimated combined total killed in these major wars was 71, 881,347. It is still fewer than the estimated 100 million killed by tobacco use. The sad part is diseases caused by tobacco use are the most preventable diseases in the world. Each year the 6 million who die from the effects of smoking have paid a small fortune to the tobacco companies to have great suffering and an early death. The CDC says that the death for a smoker is, on average, ten years earlier than non-smokers die.

Besides all the unnecessary deaths, the CDC states the economic cost in the United States alone is more than $300 billion per year.

In 2013, the World Health Organization (WHO) released its updated report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic. In the opening paragraph of the Executive Summary on the Global Tobacco Epidemic, the WHO estimates that the annual global economic cost from tobacco use is over $500 billion and that if the trends do not change, tobacco use will kill one billion people this century.

The Top Ten Causes of Death in the United States *

Medical News Today reported on the top ten causes of death in the United States, which are:

  1. Heart Disease
  2. Cancers
  3. Respiratory diseases
  4. Accidents
  5. Stroke
  6. Alzheimer’s
  7. Diabetes
  8. Pneumonia and Flu
  9. Renal disease (kidney disease)
  10. Suicide

The American Lung Association states that smoking has been linked to heart disease, cancer, respiratory disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and renal disease. That means smoking is responsible for, or a serious contributing factor in, seven out of the top ten causes of death in the United States.

Global Deaths Due to Smoking *

In some countries, the Tobacco Atlas shows that each year smoking accounts for one-quarter or more of the male deaths.

Here is a list of countries, from a study done in 2010 by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), as reported by the Tobacco Atlas, where more than 25% of the men who die each year, die because of smoking:

  • Armenia – 30%
  • Belarus – 28%
  • Belgium – 25%
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina – 30%
  • Georgia – 27%
  • Greece – 30%
  • Hungary – 25%
  • Latvia – 26%
  • Macedonia – 29%
  • Montenegro – 26%
  • Netherlands – 26%
  • Poland – 28%
  • Russia – 28%
  • South Korea – 34%
  • Turkey – 31%
  • Ukraine – 27%

South Korea has the worst record with more than one-third (34%) of the deaths of men caused by smoking. Fewer women die from smoking than men, yet 22% of the female deaths in South Korea come from smoking. Again, this is the worst record in the world.

Here is a list of countries, from the same study done in 2010 by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), as reported by the Tobacco Atlas, where more than 15% of the women who die each year, die because of smoking:

  • Albania – 19%
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina – 17%
  • Brunei – 21%
  • Cuba – 17%
  • Denmark – 20%
  • Iceland – 15%
  • Ireland – 15%
  • Lebanon – 18%
  • Macedonia – 15%
  • Serbia – 16%
  • South Korea – 22%
  • UK – 16%
  • USA – 16%

Notice that both the UK and the USA, where anti-smoking campaigns have been very successful, made this list for a large percentage of female deaths from smoking. Clearly, there is still a way to go to reduce these unnecessary deaths.

Preventing Tobacco-Related Deaths *

The WHO report on the global tobacco epidemic goes on to say that noncommunicable diseases (NCD), which include cancer, diabetes, heart, and lung diseases cause 63% of all deaths worldwide. This is 36 million people. 83% of these deaths happen in developing countries. Using tobacco is one of the largest contributing factors in these deaths. The WHO advocates increased tobacco control measures in all countries that include the following:

  • A complete ban on all forms of advertising, sponsorship, and promotion for tobacco products
  • Stronger, more graphic warning labels
  • Increased smoking cessation programs
  • Creating more smoke-free environments
  • Increased public health campaigns about the dangers of smoking
  • Increasing taxes on tobacco products

93 countries have already joined this WHO initiative by improving and increasing tobacco controls. The goal of the WHO is to, by 2025, reduce the early deaths from NCDs by 25%. This would save about 9 million lives per year.

Tobacco Companies Fight Back *

The WHO report notes that in order for a company to sell a product that kills more than half its customers they must be incredibly good at marketing and disguising the real dangers of smoking. Tobacco companies use tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship (TAPS) to recruit new smokers from the very young teenagers to adult women who take up smoking. Tobacco companies know that if they can get a teenager addicted to their product early enough, they will be brand loyal and a smoker for a long time.

The CDC reports, in the United States alone tobacco companies spent $9.17 billion during 2012 on TAPS in America. That is equivalent to $25 million per day.

Deceptive Advertising *

Cancer Research UK points out that there has been a long history of deceptive advertising by the tobacco companies. At times in the past, some of the advertisements said that doctors recommended cigarettes and they were good for health. Later, cigarettes were associated with a “cowboy” lifestyle and freedom of choice.

There was a movement in the UK to have all cigarettes in standard plain packages with strong warnings. The concept was to reduce the ability of tobacco companies to market to youth by using attractive packaging. This measure had support from over 190 organizations. The law passed. This is a step in the right direction. The new packaging requirements, as shown on Smoke Free, go into effect during May 2016.

The Developing Countries Disparity *

Tobacco companies are rapidly losing ground in the developed countries, so they turned their focus on trying to get youth to smoke in the developing countries. They also focused on getting more women to smoke. The WHO report points out that the smoking rate among women in South Korea went from 1.6% to 13.0% in the ten years from 1988 to 1998. Clearly, advertising was effective in adding more people to the global numbers that will ultimately die from tobacco use.

The WHO called the tobacco epidemic one of the greatest health challenges the world has ever had to deal with. It is on a scale that is almost unimaginable. One billion lives are at risk. 80% of the one billion smokers live in low to middle-income countries. In ten years from now, the questions will be how many people die from cigarettes and how many people die from tobacco use. Hopefully, the answer will be less, not more. The battle will be won or lost in the developing countries, especially in China and in India.

How Many People Die from Smoking in China *

The Clinical Trial Service Unit and Epidemiological Studies Unit (CTSU) at the University of Oxford pointed out in 1998 that projections were one million Chinese deaths per year from smoking would occur in 2000 and by 2050, the number would increase to 3 million deaths per year. An article in Quartz noted that 68% of Chinese men are smokers (only 3.2% of Chinese females smoke). Yearly deaths of Chinese men have already surpassed the one million mark and keep increasing. CTSU went on to say, there are over 300 million Chinese men that are in their twenties and thirties. About one-third will die from smoking. That is 100 million deaths due to smoking in China alone. Half of them will die between the ages of 35 to 69.

How Many People Die from Smoking in India *

Reports from Hindustantimes show that India is keeping pace with China with over one million deaths from smoking each year. The story notes tobacco is the only legally available product that kills people when used as directed. New packaging proposed in India will show graphic and horrific photos of mouth and throat cancer to let consumers know exactly what the product is capable of doing to a person.

Diseases Related to Smoking *

Even though the numbers are high regarding how many people die from smoking each year, those who suffer from disease and disability due to smoking are even higher. The American Lung Association lists 10 of the worst diseases that smoking causes. The number one disease associated with smoking is lung cancer. More individuals die from lung cancer than any other kind of cancer. COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) is a condition that is caused 80 percent of the time by cigarette smoking. This disease makes it extremely hard for a person to breathe and can cause frequent respiratory infections. Heart attacks, stroke, asthma, and reproductive problems are also related to smoking. BeTobaccoFree.gov. describes the various ways that smoking can affect the body. They list over a dozen different organs and parts of the body that can be harmed from smoking. A few include the nose, throat, mouth, lungs, and kidneys. While most people understand that smoking can affect the heart, the brain, and the breathing passages, there are several other areas of the human body that can be affected that may surprise some people. A decrease in bone density and the incidence of osteoporosis, for instance, can increase when a person smokes. Even Crohn’s disease, which is a digestive disorder, has been linked to smoking.

Secondhand Smoke *

When calculating how many people die from smoking each year it’s necessary to include information regarding secondhand smoke. Secondhand smoke is defined as smoke inhaled involuntarily from the tobacco that is being smoked by others. The American Lung Association lists several carcinogenic or toxic chemicals contained in secondhand smoke. A few of these include benzene, arsenic, ammonia, formaldehyde, hydrogen cyanide, and vinyl chloride.  Swedish.org found that secondhand smoke has been associated with diseases of the brain, bladder, and stomach. It has even been linked to childhood leukemia. Secondhand smoke can be particularly dangerous for children. Exposure to this type of smoke can cause a variety of lower respiratory tract infections and is associated with sudden death syndrome (SIDS). Because of increasing research and evidence showing just how many people die from secondhand smoke, laws have been put into place to limit or remove smoking completely from most public places.

Costs Associated with Smoking *

Just in the United States, costs related to smoking are in the billions of dollars each year. Not only are there high costs regarding just how many people die a year from smoking, but there are numerous expenses associated with healthcare costs and workplace related expenses. Of course these costs can’t begin to calculate the emotional toll that smoking will take on an individual’s life and the lives of their loved ones when disease and death occurs. Even from just a financial vantage point, smoking costs individuals and their families an extraordinary amount of money that could be ultimately used in more positive ways. An average pack of cigarettes in the United States currently costs between $5 and $7 dollars. That averages $42 dollars each week for a pack a day habit. That comes to over $2,000.00 each year. While some individuals may argue that smoking can bring in tax money for governments, this is not a valid argument considering the overall costs to society. Smokefree.org states that the government in New Zealand brought in a total of $842 million in taxes in 2005. The overall cost to New Zealand in terms of early death, illnesses, health-related costs, and lost production, however, were approximately $1.7 billion.

Statistics and Smoking *

Global Tobacco Control states that 1 billion people throughout the world smoke cigarettes. Several statistics regarding how many people die each year from smoking have been released from the group, Action on Smoking and Health.  This particular group cites statistics related to smoking in the UK. They have found that nearly half of all people who smoke cigarettes on a regular basis will ultimately die due to their addiction. They go on to state that approximately 100,000 people who are smokers in the UK die each year from causes related to smoking. In Great Britain 17 percent of adult women and 22 percent of adult men are smokers. In Australia, The Quit Resource Center presents research that estimates that 2 out of every 3 lifetime smokers will eventually die from a disease that is caused from their smoking.  The CDC reports that in the United States the number of both men and women adults who smoke are about 18 percent of the total population. The following are some lesser known facts about smoking.

  • There are over 4,000 known chemicals in tobacco smoke.
  • More than 20 percent of all deaths that occur in the United States are due to tobacco.
  • On average, every 6 seconds a person dies from a disease related to tobacco.
  • Each pack of cigarettes sold in the United States will cost society an estimated $18.05.
  • Greece and Serbia have intermittently exchanged first place in recent years as the country with the most smokers per population.how many people die from smoking

How to Quit Smoking *

Considering how many people have died from smoking, making an effort to quit is extremely important. There are several methods available to help individuals quit smoking. According to WebMD there are generally 4 ways that people can use to quit smoking.

  • Cold Turkey – This means giving up smoking without any outside intervention or help. While smoking is extremely addictive, it’s estimated that the majority of people will attempt to quit in this manner. However, only about 4 to 7 percent of people are ultimately successful using this method.
  • Behavioral Therapy – This method involves working with a counselor or a therapist in order to quit smoking. One of the primary goals of this method is to discover the triggers that cause a person to smoke in the first place. Triggers could be emotions or certain situations people find themselves in. A plan is then made to avoid these triggers.
  • Nicotine Replacement Therapy – Patches, gum, inhalers, and other products that contain a certain amount of nicotine are sometimes used to help individuals wean themselves off of smoking. Those under 18 would need the permission of a physician to use these methods.
  • Prescription Drugs – Certain medications are sometimes used to help people stop smoking. Most of these types of medications are taken orally and need to be prescribed by a doctor.

Most methods of quitting smoking basically falls into one of these categories or is a combination of one of the four. What works best for one individual may not necessary work well for another. This means it is important for a person to not give up if he or she has tried a particular method and has initially failed. Another method or combination of methods may be more appropriate for that individual to achieve success. There are numerous benefits to quitting smoking. Some of the benefits will begin to take place almost immediately after quitting. The American Lung Association states that only 20 minutes after smoking the last cigarette that a person’s heart rate will return to a normal level. In less than a day the carbon monoxide levels in the blood will also return to normal. In only a few weeks of being cigarette free a person’s heart attack risk will begin to drop. As the years of being smoke-free continue, the risk of suffering from nearly every type of disease from smoking will drop significantly.

Considering all the reasons not to smoke and the many benefits of giving up smoking, it’s imperative that smokers make a serious attempt to permanently give up the habit. If a person is unable to quit without assistance, it’s important to visit a physician. A trained medical professional can advise each individual on the method or methods that may work best.

Conclusion *

The WHO report says that tobacco is the second leading cause of death globally. These deaths are preventable. The actions by the WHO to convince countries, especially the developing ones that are so vulnerable, to introduce more tobacco controls are based on measurable factors that reduce tobacco consumption. This reduces suffering from disease and early death. Tobacco companies are pure evil. If they had any moral sense at all they would stop making and selling these products. Their motivation comes from greed and nothing else. They have gotten away with genocide by tobacco long enough. They will kill one billion more people if we let them continue to get away with selling a deadly product.


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