The Facts About
"Smoking kills almost six
many people as road and
overdoses and HIV all put
Smoking is a greater cause of death
and disability than
any other single
disease, says the
According to their figures,
it is responsible
five million deaths
Heart attack and stroke
UK studies show that smokers in
their 30s and 40s
are five times
more likely to have
a heart attack
Tobacco contributes to the hardening of the arteries, which can then become blocked and starve the heart of
bloodflow, causing the attack. Often, smokers who develop this will require complex and risky heart bypass
If you smoke for a lifetime, there is a 50% chance that your eventual death will be smoking-related - half of all
these deaths will be in middle age. Smoking also increases the risk of having a stroke.
Another primary health risk associated with smoking are lung cancer, which kills more than 20,000 people in the UK
US studies have shown that men who smoke increase their chances of dying from the disease by more than 22
Women who smoke increase this risk by nearly 12 times.
Lung cancer is a difficult cancer to treat - long term survival rates are poor.
Smoking also increases the risk of oral, uterine, liver, kidney, bladder, stomach, and cervical cancers, and
Another health problem associated with tobacco is emphysema, which, when combined with chronic bronchitis, produces
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
The lung damage which causes emphysema is irreversible, and makes it extremely difficult to breathe.
Harm to children
Smoking in pregnancy greatly increases the risk of miscarriage, is associated with lower
birthweight babies, and inhibited child development.
Smoking by parents following the birth is linked to sudden infant death syndrome, or cot death, and higher rates of
infant respiratory illness, such as bronchitis, colds, and pneumonia.
Nicotine, an ingredient of tobacco, is listed as an addictive substance by the US authorities.
Although the health risks of smoking are culmulative, giving up can yield health benefits regardless of the age of
the patient, or the length of time they have been smoking.
By 2020, the World Health organisation expects the worldwide death toll to reach 10 million,
causing 17.7% of all deaths in developed countries. There are believed to be 1.1 billion smokers in the world,
800,000 of them in developing countries.