The 1982 Surgeon General's Report stated that "Cigarette smoking is the major single cause of cancer mortality in the United States." This statement is as true today as it was in 1982. Because cigarette smoking and tobacco use is an acquired behavior, one that the individual chooses to do, smoking is the most preventable cause of premature death in our society.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 46.2 million US adults were current smokers in 2001 (the most recent year for which numbers are available). This is 22.8% of all adults (25.2% of men, 20.7% of women) - nearly 1 in every 4 people.
When broken down by race/ethnicity, the numbers were as follows:
American Indians/Alaska Natives
Asian Americans 24.0%
Alarmingly, the numbers were higher in younger age groups. Almost 27% of those 18 to 24 years old were current smokers.
Nationwide, 22.9% of high school students were current smokers in 2002. White and Hispanic students were among the highest in terms of cigarette use. (For more information, see the American Cancer Society document, "Child and Teen Tobacco Use.")
Health Effects of Smoking
Each year, a staggering 440,000 people die in the US from tobacco use. Nearly 1 of every 5 deaths is related to smoking. Cigarettes kill more Americans than alcohol, car accidents, suicide, AIDS, homicide, and illegal drugs combined.
Cigarette smoking accounts for at least 30% of all cancer deaths. It is a major cause of cancers of the lung, larynx (voice box), oral cavity, pharynx (throat), and esophagus, and is a contributing cause in the development of cancers of the bladder, pancreas, liver, uterine cervix, kidney, stomach, colon and rectum, and some leukemias.
About 87% of lung cancer deaths are caused by smoking. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women, and is one of the most...