Tobacco Use in the US

Tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of disease, disability, and death in the United States. Each year, an estimated 443,000 people die prematurely from smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke, and another 8.6 million live with a serious illness caused by smoking. Despite these risks, approximately 46.6 million U.S. adults smoke cigarettes. Smokeless tobacco, cigars, and pipes also have deadly consequences, including lung, larynx, esophageal, and oral cancers.

The harmful effects of smoking do not end with the smoker. An estimated 88 million nonsmoking Americans, including 54% of children aged 3–11 years, are exposed to secondhand smoke. Even brief exposure can be dangerous because nonsmokers inhale many of the same poisons in cigarette smoke as smokers.

Secondhand smoke exposure causes serious disease and death, including heart disease and lung cancer in nonsmoking adults and sudden infant death syndrome, acute respiratory infections, ear problems, and more frequent and severe asthma attacks in children. Each year, primarily because of exposure to secondhand smoke, an estimated 3,000 nonsmoking Americans die of lung cancer, more than 46,000 die of heart disease, and about 150,000–300,000 children younger than 18 months have lower respiratory tract infections.

Coupled with this enormous health toll is the significant economic burden of tobacco use—more than $96 billion a year in medical costs and another $97 billion a year from lost productivity.

Risks from Smoking

Smoking can damage every part of the body

Who’s at Risk?

U.S. Adult Smoking Statistics
Source: National Health Interview Survey, 2010

Percent of adults who smoke by sex

Percent of adults who smoke by racial/ethnic group

Percent of adults who smoke by poverty level

Percent of adults who smoke by educational level
Education estimates are among individuals ≥25 years of age.

U.S. State Info

Adult smoking prevalence by state
Source: Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2010.

For more information, please contact us:

Telephone: 1-800-CDC-INFO (232-4636)
TTY: 1-888-232-6348 
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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 
1600 Clifton Road NE
Atlanta, GA 30333

Winter 2014

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