Tobacco use causes many types of cancer

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of cancer deaths. It causes at least 12 types of cancer. People who use tobacco or are exposed to secondhand smoke are more likely to get and die from cancer. Cigarette smoking causes 3 in 10 of all cancer deaths.

  • Tobacco smoke has at least 70 chemicals that cause cancer.
  • Exposure to secondhand smoke also causes cancer.
  • States and communities can help by protecting nonsmokers with restrictions on smoking in public places, by supporting comprehensive cancer control programs focused on tobacco, and by making quit-smoking resources more available to those who want to quit.

Quitting smoking at any age can reduce the risk of getting or dying from cancer. Getting screened for cancer can lead to fewer people getting or dying from some tobacco-related cancers.

A cigarette package showing surgeon-general's warning message, on a table with an ashtray and cigarettes

Surgeon General's warning

cancer reference books on a shelf

Cancer reference books

Children on playground equipment

Healthy Schools

Infographic: Tobacco use* causes cancer throughout the body

Tobacco use causes cancer throughout the body. (Tobacco use includes smoked `{`cigarettes and cigars`}` and smokeless `{`snuff and chewing tobacco`}` products that, to date, have been shown to cause cancer.)

Infographic: Tobacco-related cancers across the U.S., and chart of tobacco-related cancer deaths decreasing over time.

Prevent cancer deaths from tobacco use.

Two men discussing something

Cancer and Tobacco Use

Cancer and tobacco use

Cancer and Tobacco Use

Infographic : a chart showing how tobacco-related cancer deaths have decreased over time.

About 1.3 million tobacco-related cancer deaths have been avoided since 1990

A woman holding a picture of her family

Cancer and Tobacco Use

Tobacco use causes 12 types of cancer

Tobacco use causes 12 types of cancer.

Cancers linked to tobacco use make up 40% of all cancers diagnosed.

Cancers linked to tobacco use make up 40% of all cancers diagnosed.

Cigarette smoking causes 3 out of 10 of all cancer deaths

Cigarette smoking causes 3 out of 10 of all cancer deaths

Contact Information

CDC Media Relations
(404) 639-3286

Vital Signs Links

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“Tobacco-related cancer affects every community. States and communities can support comprehensive cancer control programs focusing on cancer prevention, education, screening, access to care, and support for cancer survivors.”

“Doctors and nurses can use every visit as an opportunity to promote tobacco-free living. It’s especially important for people to understand that counseling and medications are available for tobacco cessation and fully covered by most insurance plans.”

Lisa Richardson, MD, MPH – Director, Division of Cancer Prevention and Control

“Tobacco-related cancer deaths have declined, but tens of millions of people in the U.S. still smoke, and too many people are dying before their time. We know how to prevent tobacco-related cancers, but we need more urgency in our actions.”

Jane Henley, MSPH – MSPH, Epidemiologist, Division of Cancer Prevention and Control

Page last reviewed: November 10, 2016