Tobacco statistics

Caused by smoking

Smoking is the largest cause of cancer in the UK

Smoking causes at least 16 different types of cancer: lung, larynx, bladder, pharynx, oesophagus, liver, cervix, nasopharynx, pancreas, stomach, oral cavity, kidney, bowel, leukaemia, breast, and ovarian.[1]

Age-standardised incidence rates of some smoking-related cancers are decreasing, and this is 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.[2,3] and one of the largest preventable causes of illness and death in the world. [2] Tobacco caused an estimated 75,800 deaths in the UK in 2021 - around a tenth (11%) of all deaths from all causes, that’s around one person every seven minutes .[2] It caused an estimated 37,700 cancer deaths in the UK in 2021 - a fifth (20%) of all cancer deaths.[2] Smoking (both active smoking and environmental tobacco smoke) causes 3 in 20 (14%) cancer cases in the UK. There were an estimated 57,600 cases of cancer caused by smoking in the UK in 2023.[4]

Estimated Numbers and Proportions of Cancer Cases Attributable to Smoking, By Cancer Site, Persons, All Ages, UK, 2023

Cancer site (ICD-10 codes) Smoking-attributable cases Smoking-attributable proportion
Lung (C33-C34) 33,096 64%
Larynx (C32) 1,390 62%
Bladder (C67) 4,472 42%
Pharynx (C09-C10, C12-C14) 1,261 34%
Oesophagus (C15) 3,065 31%
Liver (C22) 1,630 22%
Cervix (C53) 641 19%
Nasopharynx (C11) 47 18%
Pancreas (C25) 2,061 17%
Stomach (C16) 955 16%
Oral cavity (C00-C06) 904 15%
Kidney (C64-C66, C68) 2,151 14%
Bowel (C18-C20) 3,074 7%
Leukaemia (C91-C95) 632 6%
Breast (C50) 2,160 4%
Ovary (C56-C57.4) 17 <1%
All cancers combined excluding non-melanoma skin cancer (C00-C97 excl C44) 57,555 14%



  1. International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Personal Habits and Indoor Combustions IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans Volume 100E. IARC: Lyon; 2012.
  2. Global Health Data Exchange. Global Burden of Disease (GBD) Results Tool. Available from Accessed June 2024.
  3. 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.
  4. Cancer Research UK Cancer Intelligence team. The fraction of cancer attributable to known risk factors in UK countries in 2023, 2013, and 2003. In preparation, 2024.

About this data

The number of cancer cases attributable to smoking was calculated using the attributable risk formula applied to cancer incidence. Analysis was carried out in R version 4.3.1.

Cancer incidence data used in the calculation is for UK, projected for 2023, ICD 10 C00-C97, excl. C44. Projections were calculated by Cancer Research UK, based on the age-period-cohort modelling approach.

Exposure prevalence data used in the calculation is for 2013 to allow a 10-year lag. Data were collected from national health surveys for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Relative Risk (RR) values used in the calculation are from a systematic literature review, for lung (current and former smoking), lung (secondhand smoking), larynx, bladder, pharynx, oesophagus (adenocarcinoma), oesophagus (squamous cell carcinoma - current smoking), oesophagus (squamous cell carcinoma - former smoking), liver, cervix, nasopharynx, pancreas, stomach, oral cavity, kidney, bowel, leukaemia, breast and ovarian cancers.

Last reviewed:

Local Cancer Statistics

Local level cancer statistics; search profiles by area, constituency or health board in the UK..

Interested in an overview for Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland?

Cancer stats explained

See information and explanations on terminology used for statistics and reporting of cancer, and the methods used to calculate some of our statistics.


You are welcome to reuse this Cancer Research UK content for your own work.
Credit us as authors by referencing Cancer Research UK as the primary source. Suggested styles are:

Web content: Cancer Research UK, full URL of the page, Accessed [month] [year].
Publications: Cancer Research UK ([year of publication]), Name of publication, Cancer Research UK.
Graphics (when reused unaltered): Credit: Cancer Research UK.
Graphics (when recreated with differences): Based on a graphic created by Cancer Research UK.

When Cancer Research UK material is used for commercial reasons, we encourage a donation to our life-saving research.
Send a cheque payable to Cancer Research UK to: Cancer Research UK, 2 Redman Place, London, E20 1JQ or

Donate online


We are grateful to the many organisations across the UK which collect, analyse, and share the data which we use, and to the patients and public who consent for their data to be used. Find out more about the sources which are essential for our statistics.