Smoking is More Deadly Than it Used to Be

Written by Margaret Badore

Smoking today is even more deadly than it was half a century ago, according to the most recent report on smoking from the U.S. Surgeon General. Roughly 43 million adults in the U.S. smoke, or 18 percent of the population.

Although the percentage of Americans who smoke is at an all-time low, the health risks for those who smoke is worse than in the past. The report finds that “the evidence is sufficient to infer that the relative risk of dying from cigarette smoking has increased over the last 50 years.”

In other words, smoking today makes you more likely to die early than it did for someone smoking in the 1950s or 1960s. Men who smoked in 1959 were about three times more likely to get lung cancer than men who never smoked. Today, men who smoke are 26 times more likely than their non-smoking peers. In 1959, female smokers were 12 times more likely to suffer from lung cancer than women who had never smoked. Today, women who smoke are 25 time more likely to get cancer.

Changes in the composition of cigarettes may have contributed to this change, but it’s difficult to determine the cause. “Beyond causing specific diseases and a wide range of other adverse health effects, smoking is also associated with generally poorer health, when smokers are compared with nonsmokers,” the report says.

“However, the pattern of changes in risk and death rates in other diseases caused by smoking make it difficult to sort out what specific aspects of smoking are most responsible for increased risk of dying prematurely due to smoking,” Centers for Disease Control spokesman Joel London told NPR.

Smoking also causes more diseases than previously known. The report says that tuberculosis, diabetes, ectopic pregnancy, erectile dysfunction and rheumatoid arthritis have all been causally linked to smoking. The report also explores a number of potential ways to further reduce the percentage of Americans who smoke.

This post was originally published in TreeHugger

Photo Credit: Barbara.K


june t.
june t3 years ago

maybe it's gmo - frankentobacco

Jelena Radovanovic
Past Member 3 years ago

Thank you for the article.

Bryan Bates
Bryan Bates3 years ago

please tell what from the tip to the end of the smoke. I believe that the chemicals for drying the tobacco. They lace the tobacco with the chemicals that dry it out then the paper does not help ether but I think that I can make it safer like if you listen to me I can take the pollution out of the air.

Alex H.
Alex H3 years ago

I have never smoked in my life and I'm glad that in the 60's and 70's,there wasn't the sort of peer group pressure around to take up the habit.I recall going to parties that were full of smokers,and it really didn't bother me.However,in the last 20 years,I have become more and more aware of the effect of cigarette smoke,even on the beach or out and about.The smoker can be 50 metres away and I can still smell the smoke.Is it me or are these:"cancer sticks"now full of so many deadly volatile ingredients,that they carry for long distances?If that is the case,imagine what is happening to your lungs,at such a short distance of ingestion?!

Mike Wilkinson
Mike Wilkinson3 years ago

we all choose our poisons......personally i'll smoke marijuana hands down.....I take a bong hit as opposed to smoking a pack or 2 of cigs inner punk refuses to grow up and worship at the church of sobriety.......

Brian Foster
Brian F3 years ago

Tobacco and alcohol kill 1400 people every day, and yet they are legal. Marijuana has never killed anyone. The "war on drugs" has focused nearly exclusively on the illegal trafficking of drugs like cocaine, heroin, and marijuana, while the most powerful drug dealers of all -- the pharmaceutical companies -- are allowed to grow their businesses with the U.S. government's gold seal of approval. But make no mistake – the leading pharmaceutical companies are also among the largest corporate criminals in the world, and they are really nothing more than white-collar drug dealers. Although many fail to realize this, prescription drugs can be just as addictive as illegal drugs. In fact, in many cases there's no difference between a street drug and a prescription drug. For example, hydrocodone, a prescription opiate, is synthetic heroin. It's indistinguishable from any other heroine as far as your brain and body is concerned. So, if you're hooked on hydrocodone, you are in fact a good-old-fashioned heroin addict.

Susan T.
Susan T3 years ago

i smoke organic

Donna Ferguson
Donna F3 years ago


Tammy D.
Tammy D3 years ago

I am convinced that this is due to the filters being used (as well as additives in the tobacco). Back in the day, a lot of people smoked filterless. Now, even people who roll their own cigarettes add filters to them. What are these filters made of? Do the commercially rolled ones add even more chemicals to the filters? I bet yes. Things like fiberglass and things that probably cause microscopic tears in internal tissues.

Latonya and others: You are not stupid. You are smart enough to know that you are hurting yourself and the people who love you. It takes a lot of strength to quit for good, and I wish you all the best.

Latonya W.
Latonya W3 years ago

Thanx for this Im 22 days smoke free so this article makes me happy to stay strong...I was reading this detox program and the author said people who smoke are did something to me I didnt think Oh its a battle and feel sorry for myself and etc bottom line is we all know the damage so to continue to smoke is stupid If I pick up a cig again i know I will immediately feel stupid:) Thanx for this article again...