Early death risk from smoking

If you continue to smoke, you have a 50% chance of dying early because of your smoking. On average, people who smoke die nearly 7 years earlier than people who do not smoke.

Quitting smoking will add time to your life no matter how old you are or how long you've been smoking, because quitting smoking reduces your risk for developing life-threatening health problems. The amount of time you will gain depends on how long you've been smoking, how many cigarettes you smoke each day, and whether you already have other health problems when you quit.

  • For those who quit smoking before age 35, almost all of the disease risk from smoking is eliminated.
  • If you quit smoking before you turn 50, your risk of dying in the next 15 years is half that of a person who continues to smoke after age 50.1
  • Even men and women who quit at age 65 to 69 increase their life expectancy.

People who have become seriously ill because they smoke have a chance to live longer and are less likely to develop dangerous infections, such as pneumonia, if they quit.


  1. National Institutes of Health (accessed March 2007). Tobacco addiction: Fact sheet. Available online: http://www.nih.gov/about/researchresultsforthepublic/Tobaccoaddiction.pdf.

Last Updated: July 22, 2009

Author: Bets Davis, MFA

Medical Review: Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & John Hughes, MD - Psychiatry

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