Tobacco, Nicotine, Addiction and Death
Tobacco kills 443,000 people per year in America alone.
- Tobacco has caused more death than all of the wars in the history of the world;
- Between 1950 and the year 2000 tobacco killed about 60 million people worldwide;
- Tobacco kills about eight people around the world each minute; and
- More people die from tobacco than from the combination of AIDS, alcohol, automobile accidents, fires, homicides, illegal drugs, and suicides.
Tobacco-related illnesses are the leading cause of death around the world.
Nicotine is more addictive than heroin. Seventy percent of all smokers try to quit every year, but only 10 percent succeed. Four million children under the age of 18 are regular smokers in the U.S. More than 80,000 young people around the world begin smoking every day. The average age of first tobacco use in the United States is 13.
Almost 90 percent of all smokers started their addictive habit before their 18th birthday. Tobacco companies know that they need to hook a smoker before they leave high school or they will likely lose the prospective customer forever.
Alcohol and tobacco account for 80 percent of the healthcare costs in America.
In the 1950s, Kent cigarettes and others had filters made of asbestos. Most cigarettes contain ammonia-based compounds to enhance the nicotine released from the tobacco leaf. In the world of illicit drugs, this is called free-basing.
Even though the number of people who are smoking is going down, the per capita cigarette consumption is going up in most countries. This is a result of an emergence of a “core smoker,” or someone who smokes way more than the average amount per day.
In addition to nicotine, tobacco smoke contains some 4,000 different gases and particles, including “tar,” a conglomeration of many chemicals, which is especially harmful to the lungs. Among the harmful gases in tobacco smoke are nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide, and cyanide. More than 40 carcinogens—chemicals capable of causing cancer— have been identified in tobacco smoke, and one of these, benzo(a)pyrene, is being studied as a possible direct link to cancer.
Governments around the world collect 500 times more money in tobacco taxes each year than they spend on anti-tobacco efforts. As a result, eight people die every minute because of tobacco-related diseases. These premature deaths save governments billions more each year.
The U.S. government became dependent on tobacco taxes in 1898, when Congress raised taxes on cigarettes 200 percent to pay for the Spanish-American war. In 1910, tobacco generated $58 million in federal taxes. By 1999, tobacco produced more than $3.3 billion in federal, state and local taxes in just the United States. By 2010, that number was closer to $10 billion per year.