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Health Concerns

Smoking and Mortality

Smoking is the most important cause of premature death in Canada.1 Read more about premature death...

Facts

Each year, there are more than 230,000 deaths in Canada.2 Research has shown that, in 2002, about 17% of deaths were due to smoking (20% in males and 12% in females).3

Each day, 100 Canadians die of a smoking-related illness.3

Smoking is responsible for more deaths than overweight and obesity, physical inactivity or high blood pressure.4

The main causes of smoking-related deaths are cancers, cardiovascular diseases and respiratory diseases.3,5.

Exposure to second-hand smoke alone caused 831 deaths among Canadian adults in 2002, and the main causes of death were heart disease and lung cancer.3

In 2002, smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke were responsible for almost 100 infant deaths from three conditions: sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), low birth weight and short gestation.3,6

The younger a person starts smoking the greater the risk of premature death. Regardless of the age at which someone starts smoking, their risk of dying prematurely is greater compared to someone who has never smoked.7

This health warning message addresses mortality for cigarettes and little cigars:

Man at the morgue zipping up a body bag

What is premature death?

Premature death is when someone dies before their normal life expectancy. In Canada, males can expect to live about 78 years, and females about 83 years.8 By contrast, it has been estimated that male smokers in Canada live to an average age of 71 years while female smokers live to an average age of 73 years.9

How does smoking increase the risk of premature death?

Some of the chemicals in tobacco smoke cause changes in the human body which can lead to disease, disability and premature death. Some chemicals cause, initiate or promote cancer10,11 while some interfere with normal cardiovascular and respiratory function.5

The benefits of quitting

Soon after quitting, the risk of premature death starts to decline, and the benefits increase over the next 10 to 15 years.5,12

Quitting is more effective than other measures to avoid premature death.

Need help to quit? Call the pan-Canadian quitline toll-free at 1-866-366-3667.

References

1. Makromaski-Illing, EM, Kaiserman MJ. Mortality Attributable to Tobacco Use in Canada and its Regions, 1994 and 1996. Chron Dis Can 1999;20(3):111-117.

2. Statistics Canada. Table 102-0552 - Deaths and mortality rate, by selected grouped causes and sex, Canada, provinces and territories, annual (2007), CANSIM (database). 2011 [updated 2010 Nov 15; cited 2011 Mar 4]. Available from: Next link will take you to another Web site http://www5.statcan.gc.ca/cansim/a05?lang=eng&id=1020552.

3. Rehm J, Baliunas D, Brochu S, Fischer B, Gnam W, Patra J, et al. The costs of substance abuse in Canada 2002. Ottawa: Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse; 2006

4. Global Burden of Disease 2004 - Americas. World Health Organization. Available from Next link will take you to another Web site http://www.who.int/healthinfo/global_burden_disease/risk_factors/en/index.html

5. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Smoking. A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health; 2004. Chap 7. P.878. Available from: Next link will take you to another Web site http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/smokingconsequences/index.html

6. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke. A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking an Health; 2006. Chap.1. P. 13-16. Available from: Next link will take you to another Web site http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/secondhandsmoke/index.html.

7. Kenfield SA, Stampfer MJ, Rosner BA and Colditz GA. Smoking and smoking cessation in relation to mortality in women. JAMA. 2008;299(17): 2037-2047.

8. Statistics Canada, CANSIM, table 102-0512 and Catalogue no. 84-537-XIE. Last modified: 2010-06-21. Available from: Next link will take you to another Web site http://www40.statcan.ca/l01/cst01/health26-eng.htm.

9. Baliunas D, Patra J, Rehm J, Popova S, Kaiserman M, and Taylor B. Smoking-attributable mortality and expected years of life lost in Canada 2002: Conclusions for prevention and policy - available from Chronic Diseases in Canada, 2007;27(4):154-162.

10. Rodgman, A., Perfetti, T.A. The chemical components of tobacco and tobacco smoke. (2009). CRC press, Florida, USA. ISBN 978-1-4200-7883-1.

11. Hecht SS. Research Opportunities Related to Establishing Standards for Tobacco Products Under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. Nicotine & Tobacco Research [http://ntr.oxfordjournals.org/] Commentary [accepted November 25, 2010]. Web Published 2011 January;10.1093/ntr/ntq216. Available from: Next link will take you to another Web site http://ntr.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2011/01/09/ntr.ntq216.full.pdf

12. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Benefits of Smoking Cessation. A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking an Health; 1990. Available from: Next link will take you to another Web site http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/reports/index.html.