Health consequences of tobacco use

Quick Facts

  • Tobacco use is considered the single most significant cause of preventable illness, disability and premature mortality in Canada and in most other developed countries.
  • Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer; an estimated 85% to 90% of lung cancer cases are attributed to smoking.
  • Smoking also causes leukemia and cancers of the bladder, kidney, pancreas, oral cavity, pharynx, stomach, esophagus, cervix and larynx.
  • Smoking causes chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).  It is estimated that 75% of chronic bronchitis and emphysema cases result from smoking.3
  • In addition to COPD, smoking causes acute respiratory illnesses and major respiratory symptoms.
  • Smoking causes coronary heart disease, stroke and diseases of the blood vessels
  • Smoking has been linked to a plethora of other health problems (cataracts, hip fractures, low bone density in post-menopausal women, peptic ulcer disease, periodontitis, reduced fertility in women, etc.).
  • In 2002, an estimated 37,209 Canadian and 3,023 Albertan deaths were attributable to tobacco use.
  • Most tobacco-attributable deaths were from cancer, cardiovascular diseases and respiratory diseases.
  • Switching to “light” cigarettes does not lower the risk of tobacco-related disease.
  • Other tobacco products are linked to many of the same health problems as cigarettes.

Source: Tobacco Basics Handbook Third Edition, 2008.  Alberta Health Services.

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