In The Know Zone


Prevalence of Tobacco Use

  • In the U.S in 1965, 52% of men and 34% women were cigarette smokers. Today, about 26% of men and 22% of women in the U.S. are smokers.
  • In China, more than 70% of men older than age 25 smoke; prevalence is continuing to increase in developing countries, but is decreasing in North America.
  • Among smokers age 12 to 17 years, a 1992 Gallup survey found that 70% said if they had to do it over again, they would not start smoking, and 66% said that they want to quit. Fifty-one percent of the teen smokers surveyed had made a serious effort to stop smoking--but had failed.
  • Annual per capita cigarette consumption increased from 54 cigarettes in 1900 to 4345 cigarettes in 1963 and then decreased to 2261 in 1998 (10,11). (CDC)
  • An important accomplishment of the second half of the 20th century has been the reduction of smoking prevalence among persons aged greater than or equal to 18 years from 42.4% in 1965 to 24.7% in 1997. (CDC)
  • The overall rate of smokeless tobacco use has changed little since 1970, with a 5% prevalence in 1970 and a 6% prevalence in 1991 among men, and 2% and 1%, respectively, for women. (CDC)
  • Total consumption of large cigars decreased from 8 billion in 1970 to 2 billion in 1993 but increased 68% to 3.6 billion in 1997 (13). (CDC)
  • A California study concluded that advertising was quite effective on non-smoking youth in California, even more so than pressure from peers or family.


  • The tobacco industry spends $700,000 per hour on tobacco advertising. Most of it is directly marketed to youth under the age of 18.
  • One study showed that Phillip Morris' Marlboro Man campaign was responsible for convincing 1.4 million children to begin smoking between 1988 and 1997. In addition, the U.S. Center for Disease Control reports that 60 percent of kids who smoke prefer Marlboro.
  • A 1991 study showed that 91% of 6 year olds could match Joe Camel to his product (cigarettes), and that Joe Camel was recognized by as many preschoolers as Mickey Mouse.
  • Another 1991 study found that since the inception of the Joe Camel campaign in 1987, Camel's share of the under-18 market had risen from 0.5% to 32.8%.


  • Almost 90% of all regular smokers began before the age of 18. (CDC )
  • Most people start smoking by age 15 and are hooked by age 18. (CDC )
  • Almost 6,000 kids try smoking for the first time each day and another 3,000 kids become regular daily smokers. (CDC )


  • In 1930, the lung cancer death rate for men was 4.9 per 100,000; by 1984, the rate had increased to 87 per 100,000. (CDC)
  • Shortly after the risk of smoking was described in 1964, public health efforts to reduce it began and produced a significant decline in smoking. During 1964-1992, approximately 1.6 million deaths caused by smoking were prevented. (CDC)
  • The #1 cancer killer among women has increased by 600% in the last fifty years, along with cigarette consumption by women.
  • Since 1985 lung cancer has been the #1 killer of women, surpassing breast cancer.
  • One cigar has as much nicotine as almost THREE PACKS of cigarettes and contains higher levels of chemicals that cause diseases such as cancer.
  • Chewing tobacco (or spit tobacco) also contains nicotine and has at least 28 cancer-causing chemicals!
  • Spit tobacco users have a nine times greater risk of developing gum disease than non-users.

Tobacco Spending

  • The average tobacco user spends over $1800 a year on tobacco.
  • $16 billion Medicare dollars are paid each year for care for smoking-related disease and disabilities. (CDC)
  • Federal and state funds pay more than 43% of all smoking-attributable medical-care expenditures. (Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report)
  • The direct medical costs associated with smoking totaled $50 billion in 1993. (Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report)
  • For each of the 24 billion packs of cigarettes sold in the U.S. in 1993, $2.00 was spent on avoidable health-care costs due to smoking. (Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report)

Nicotine Addiction

  • Tobacco industry knew in 1964 that nicotine was addictive, but they withheld that information for 30 years. During that time, 9 million Americans died from tobacco use. Source: Joseph Califano, former Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare
  • Of those who smoke, 70 percent expressed an interest in quitting. (Source: USA Today/CNN/Gallup Poll, March 1994)
  • Forty-eight percent of current smokers said they have tried to quit but failed, and 22 percent want to quit but have not tried. (Source: USA Today/CNN/Gallup Poll, March 1994)
  • Ninety-three percent of daily smokers reported feeling the withdrawal symptoms of irritability, restlessness and hunger.
  • United States Tobacco Co. - the manufacturer of Skoal and Copenhagen - manipulates the amount of nicotine people absorb while using their products by adding chemicals that boost the alkalinity of smokeless tobacco. (Wall Street Journal, Oct. 26, 1994)


  • Lung cancer is the leading category of cancer death in men, and - since the late 1980s - it has surpassed breast cancer as the leading category of cancer death in women.
  • Heart disease and stroke kill more smokers (181,000) in the U.S. each year than either cancer (158,000,) or non-cancer lung diseases (123,000.)
  • The #1 cause of deaths from fire is smoking. Most of these deaths occur when somebody falls asleep and drops a cigarette on a piece of furniture or a mattress. More people die in fires caused by smoking than in arson-induced fires. (The United States Fire Administration)
  • Within two years of quitting, the risk of death from heart disease declines 24 percent. Quitting for 10 to 14 years produces a risk level almost equal with someone who never smoked. (Nurses' Health Study, Brigham and Women's Hospital and the Harvard School of Public Health, 1993

In The Know: Substance Abuse Pamphlet/ DVD Package
"In the Know: Tobacco, License to Kill" Pamphlet
In The Know: Substance Abuse DVD Package