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Cigarette Smoking Leads to 2 Million Person-Years of Lost Life

A study done by researchers working for the American Cancer Society (ACS), found that 30% of the cancer deaths in the U.S., or over 122,000 smokers in 2019, were caused by cigarette smoking. Further, smoking led to over two million total person-years of lost life as well as close to $21 billion in annual lost earnings. These findings were published in the August 2022 issue of the International Journal of Cancer.

The study, broken down by state, found that both losses were higher in 13 Southern and Midwestern states, where the tobacco controls are weakest and cigarette smoking is highest. The people who were evaluated were between the ages of 25 to 79 years old and had any of 13 cancers, including kidney cancer, where risk factors were high for cigarette smoking causing cancer. In general cigarette smoking caused 20% of cancers but 30% of cancer deaths.

In the 13 states, both the person-years of loss of life and lost annual earnings were higher than in the other 37 states by 46.8% and 44%, respectively. Utah had the lowest person-years of lost life of any state. If all the states had similar statistics for these variables as Utah, more than half the person-years of lost life and lost income for the 2019 study year would have been avoided. Utah’s estimated rate of person-years of lost life per 100,000 population was 352 years versus 1337 years per 100,000 for West Virginia.

To see the article, “Person-years of life lost and lost earnings from cigarette smoking-attributable cancer deaths, United States, 2019,” by Farhad Islami etal, go to