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Fact Sheet

Smoking and Cancer

Aug 2023
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This fact sheet reviews the risks of developing various types of cancer from smoking, other tobacco use and exposure to other people’s tobacco smoke. It is estimated that 1 in 2 people born after 1960 in the UK will be diagnosed with some form of cancer during their lifetime and that more than one in four will die from the disease.

Up to two in three long-term smokers are expected to die from a smoking-related disease. Smoking is the single biggest avoidable risk factor for cancer. Tobacco smoke is estimated to be responsible for nearly one fifth (64,500) of all new cancer cases a year and causes 27% of all cancer deaths in the UK. The most recent statistics for the UK show that 19% of all cancers are linked to exposure to tobacco smoke.

Worldwide, one in five cancer deaths (22%) is caused by tobacco. Over the years the tobacco epidemic has grown in Low and Middle Income Countries (LMICs), although they are still at an earlier stage of the epidemic than high income countries. LMICs currently account for about 57% of all cases and 65% of cancer deaths worldwide, with lung cancer now being the leading cause of cancer morbidity and mortality among men in these nations. However, it is estimated that, as the tobacco epidemic matures, the future burden of tobacco-related cancers on less economically developed countries is expected to lead to a 70% increase in tobacco-related cancer cases.