Epidemiological research has been focused primarily on cigarette tobacco smoking,which has been studied more extensively than any other form of consumption.
Tobacco is the single greatest cause of preventable death globally.Tobacco use leads most commonly to diseases affecting the heart, liver and lungs, with smoking being a major risk factor for heart attacks, strokes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) (including emphysema and chronic bronchitis), and cancer (particularly lung cancer, cancers of the larynx and mouth, and pancreatic cancer). It also causes peripheral vascular disease and hypertension. The effects depend on the number of years that a person smokes and on how much the person smokes. Starting smoking earlier in life and smoking cigarettes higher in tar increases the risk of these diseases. Also, environmental tobacco smoke, or secondhand smoke, has been shown to cause adverse health effects in people of all ages.Cigarettes sold in underdeveloped countries tend to have higher tar content, and are less likely to be filtered, potentially increasing vulnerability to tobacco-related disease in these regions.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that tobacco caused 5.4 million deaths in 2004 and 100 million deaths over the course of the 20th century.Similarly, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describes tobacco use as “the single most important preventable risk to human health in developed countries and an important cause of premature death worldwide.