Cancer Survivors and Smoking

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In 2015, 12.0% of cancer survivors aged 18 and older were current cigarette smokers.

Summary graph for Cancer Survivors and Smoking, Click to see detailed view of graph

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Introduction

Despite their increased risk for chronic health conditions and premature death, many cancer survivors continue to smoke after their diagnosis. Young survivors (those younger than age 40) may be at particular risk for smoking. To enhance the length and health-related quality of their lives, efforts are needed to identify these individuals and provide them with evidence-based interventions to help them quit smoking and remain tobacco free.

As the population of cancer survivors increases and their expected time of survival lengthens, the health behaviors of these individuals is becoming an important focus of attention. Adoption or maintenance of healthy lifestyles after cancer has the potential to reduce both cancer- and non-cancer-related morbidity. In some cases, lifestyle choices such as smoking may also affect survival. Tracking these behaviors permits evaluation of how well cancer control efforts are working to reduce unnecessary disability and death among those with a history of cancer.

Examination of survivors’ smoking status was first added to the Cancer Trends Progress Report in the 2009–2010 issue. We update these numbers through 2015 here.

Measure

Rates of smoking among cancer survivors are based on the self-reporting of individuals with a cancer history who are interviewed as part of the annual population-based National Health Interview Survey (NHIS). Participants were asked whether they were a current smoker.

Healthy People 2020 Target

  • There is no Healthy People 2020 target for smoking rates among cancer survivors, though it does include a national objective to increase the mental and physical health-related quality of life of cancer survivors. However, it is reasonable to set this at the goal determined for the general population, which is to decrease to 12 percent the proportion of people who smoke.

Healthy People 2020 is a set of goals set forth by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Data Source

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. National Health Interview Survey, 1992–2015.

Trends and Most Recent EstimatesHelp with navigating the graphs and data tables

By Sex

Percentage of cancer survivors aged 18 years and older who were current cigarette smokers by sex, 1992-2015
Overview Graph Detailed Trend Graphs Most Recent Estimates (2015)
Percent of cancer survivors Confidence Interval
Thumbnail of graph for Percentage of cancer survivors aged 18 years and older who were current cigarette smokers by sex, 1992-2015 Both SexesClick to see the detailed trend graph for Both Sexes 12.0 (10.6 - 13.5)
MaleClick to see the detailed trend graph for Male 12.9 (10.0 - 15.8)
FemaleClick to see the detailed trend graph for Female 11.5 (9.8 - 13.2)

By Age

Percentage of cancer survivors aged 18 years and older who were current cigarette smokers by age, 1992-2015
Overview Graph Detailed Trend Graphs Most Recent Estimates (2015)
Percent of cancer survivors Confidence Interval
Thumbnail of graph for Percentage of cancer survivors aged 18 years and older who were current cigarette smokers by age, 1992-2015 Ages 18-44Click to see the detailed trend graph for Ages 18-44 29.2 (21.9 - 36.5)
Ages 45-64Click to see the detailed trend graph for Ages 45-64 16.6 (13.4 - 19.8)
Ages 65 and olderClick to see the detailed trend graph for Ages 65 and older 6.6 (5.0 - 8.2)

Compared to Remaining U.S. Population

Percentage of current smokers among cancer survivors and remaining U.S. population by age : 2006-2015
Overview graph Age Group Cancer Survivor Remaining U.S. Population
Percent of population Confidence Interval Percent of population Confidence Interval
Thumbnail of graph for Percentage of current smokers among cancer survivors and remaining U.S. population by age : 2006-2015 Ages 18-44 33.3 (30.8 - 35.9) 20.9 (20.5 - 21.3)
Ages 45-64 21.5 (20.3 - 22.7) 20.3 (19.9 - 20.7)
Ages 65 and older 8.2 (7.6 - 8.9) 9.1 (8.7 - 9.5)

Additional Information on Cancer Survivors and Smoking

Scientific reports

Statistics

For smokers

Year Range

1992-2015

Recent Summary Trend Year Range

2011-2015

Summary Tables

Survival, Smoking, Obesity, Physical Activity

Recent Summary Trend

Non-Significant Change

Desired Direction

Falling