Smoking causes at least 15 different types of cancer: lung, larynx, oesophagus, oral cavity, nasopharynx, pharynx, bladder, pancreas, kidney, liver, stomach, bowel, cervix, leukaemia, and ovarian cancers.
Incidence of some smoking-related cancers is decreasing thanks largely to decreases in smoking prevalence; these include lung cancer (decreasing in males), oesophageal cancer (decreasing in females), and bladder cancer. However, unless there is further progress in reducing smoking prevalence, these decreases are expected to slow and eventually stop.
Tobacco is the largest preventable cause of cancer and death in the UK.[1, 2] and one of the largest preventable causes of illness and death in the world.  Tobacco caused an estimated 125,000 deaths in the UK in 2019 - around a fifth (20%) of all deaths from all causes, that’s around one person every five minutes . It caused an estimated 55,000 cancer deaths in the UK in 2019 - more than a quarter (28%) of all cancer deaths. Smoking (both active smoking and environmental tobacco smoke) causes 3 in 20 (15%) cancer cases in the UK.
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Find out more about the definitions and evidence for this data
More information about our methodology for risk factor evidence
- Brown KF, Rumgay H, Dunlop C, et al. The fraction of cancer attributable to known risk factors in England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and the UK overall in 2015. British Journal of Cancer 2018.
- Global Health Data Exchange. Global Burden of Disease (GBD) Results Tool. Available from http://ghdx.healthdata.org/gbd-results-tool. Accessed October 2020.
About this data
Data is for: UK, 2015, ICD-10 C00-C97 excl. C44.