The dangers of smoking

In November 1998, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Western Pacific Regional Office held the fourth “Tobacco or Health Meeting”. The meeting pointed out that the number of deaths due to smoking in countries in the Western Pacific region each year is almost equal to the total number of deaths due to alcoholism, murder, suicide, drug abuse, drowning, traffic accidents, industrial accidents, and AIDS. Smoking can damage various organs and tissues in the human body, causing cancer, hypertension, coronary heart disease, stroke, peptic ulcer, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and other diseases. The World Health Organization estimates that 8,000 people die from smoking worldwide every day. Peter B. Piot, director of the Cancer Research Institute at Oxford University, says: “One-third of regular smokers will die from this habit, and half of them will only live to middle age.” In developed countries, smoking is related to 85% of lung cancer deaths, 75% of bronchitis and emphysema deaths, and 25% of total heart disease deaths. According to statistics, one in four smokers in the UK dies of lung cancer, and one-third of middle-aged deaths are due to lung cancer and heart disease caused by smoking. Research shows that one-third of all cancer patients’ diseases are related to smoking. It has also been found that the concentration of carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in DNA of lung tissue cells is directly proportional to the amount of smoking. The level of carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon compounds begins to decrease from the lung tissue 3 months after quitting smoking, and it does not reach the level of non-smokers until 5 years after quitting.

The dangers of smoking
The dangers of smoking

The research of a Chinese professor.

In May 1999, Professor Liu Boqi from the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences Institute of Cancer published research findings that in 1990, tobacco caused 600,000 deaths in China, which is expected to reach 800,000 in 2000, and about 3 million deaths per year by the mid-21st century if smoking continues at its current rate. Among the deaths caused by tobacco in China, chronic lung diseases account for 45%, lung cancer for 15%, and esophageal cancer, gastric cancer, liver cancer, stroke, ischemic heart disease, and pulmonary tuberculosis each account for 5% to 8%. In a recent prospective study published by Professor Niu Shiru from the Chinese Preventive Medical Institute, it was found that smoking-related deaths in 1990 accounted for about 12% of middle-aged male deaths in China, and it is expected that this proportion will rise to 33% by 2030.

Data from Beijing.

Statistics from Beijing, China show that in the 1990s, about 1/4 of the total annual deaths in the city were due to cerebrovascular diseases, and another 1/4 were due to cancer. Among cancers, lung cancer accounted for 1/4 of the total cancer deaths. In China, about 70% to 80% of male lung cancer cases are attributed to smoking, while about 30% of female cases are attributed to smoking and passive smoking. Among smokers, the incidence of cancers such as laryngeal cancer, lip cancer, tongue cancer, esophageal cancer, bladder cancer, and kidney cancer is several times higher than in non-smokers. If a person smokes an average of 20 cigarettes per day for 20 years, their risk of developing lung cancer is 20 times higher than that of a non-smoker. Those who start smoking before the age of 20 have a 28-fold increased risk of dying from lung cancer compared to non-smokers.

China’s lung cancer data.

According to the Investigative Research Office of China’s Cancer Prevention and Control Center, the mortality rate of lung cancer in China increased from 7.09 per 100,000 people in the 1970s to 17.54 per 100,000 people in the 1990s, an increase of nearly one and a half times. Over the past 20 years, the lung cancer mortality rate in Jiangsu Province, China, has risen by 3.67 times. In the 74 cities surveyed, lung cancer death has ranked first among all cancer deaths. In 1975, about 30,000 male lung cancer deaths were recorded in China. If smoking rates cannot be reduced, by 2025, an estimated 900,000 male lung cancer deaths per year will occur, equivalent to 30 times the number in the 1970s. Taking the UK as an example, smoking has caused one-third of middle-aged deaths over the years. Therefore, discouraging smoking and opposing it are crucial measures for preventing cancer, obstructive pulmonary diseases, strokes, and coronary heart disease.


The hazards of smoking are greater for teenagers due to their immature organ systems during the growth and development period, weak resistance to harmful factors in the environment, and easy absorption of toxic particles in cigarette smoke into small bronchi and alveoli, resulting in severe tissue damage. This affects pulmonary function, causing coughing and phlegm, and may also lead to shortness of breath, susceptibility to chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and heart disease. Starting to smoke between the ages of 20 and 26 increases the risk of lung cancer by 10 times compared to non-smokers, while starting to smoke between 15 and 19 increases the risk by 15 times. If starting to smoke before 15 years old, the risk increases by 17 times. The earlier the smoking starts, the higher the mortality rate from smoking-related diseases in adulthood.

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