Some say that smoking cigarettes will shorten lifespan. By how many years is the lifespan of a typical smoker shortened? What are the common cause(s) of death among smokers? Are there any known statistics for cigarette smoking and life expectancy?


1 Answer 1


The difference in life expectancy between smokers and non-smokers appears to be at least 10 years on average, in a survey of American adults between 1997 and 2004.

The same paper lists causes of death (higher among smokers than non-smokers, as measured by hazard ratio), although this is not exhaustive: lung cancer, other cancers, ischemic heart disease, stroke, other vascular disease, and respiratory disease have an adjusted hazard ratio of 1.7 or more, with 94% of lung cancer deaths attributable to smoking among female smokers, and 93% to smoking among male smokers.

If you have access, you will probably find Table 2 (hazard ratios) of interest.

Figure 2 shows the survival probability: Survival probabilities - smokers vs non smokers

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I have added Figure 2 to the answer (it is free to view and it is clearly fair use anyways) $\endgroup$
    – nico
    Mar 29, 2013 at 7:19
  • $\begingroup$ @nico: may I ask how you extracted it? I couldn't find a link. $\endgroup$
    – blep
    Mar 29, 2013 at 7:34
  • $\begingroup$ There is a link to the PDF on the right, copied, saved it on my HD then uploaded it here (or you can just grab a screenshot). $\endgroup$
    – nico
    Mar 29, 2013 at 7:37
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    $\begingroup$ What is interesting is the multiplicative effect of industrial disease with smoking, in lectures (regrettably unreferenced slides) we are advised that in the case of asbestosis risk ratio for lung cancer (not mesothelioma) is 7 in a non-smoker but a staggering 93 in smokers with asbestosis. $\endgroup$
    – Rory M
    Mar 29, 2013 at 11:59
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    $\begingroup$ @JimThio while marijuana actually has some protective effects (as demonstrated in mice, don't have the reference at hand), the basic problem in smoking is the act of smoking itself not what it is that you are inhaling. Whether you smoke weed or tobacco, you are still inhaling carbon monoxide and screwing up your haemoglobin and you are still ingesting free radicals and screwing up your DNA. Sorry (and I truly am, I am a heavy smoker of various substances). $\endgroup$
    – terdon
    Mar 29, 2013 at 19:19

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