Cancer Survivors and Smoking

Cancer Survivors and Smoking

As illustrated in the present section, many cancer survivors continue to smoke after their cancer diagnosis. This increases their risk for chronic health conditions, second primary cancers related to smoking, and premature death. 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 are becoming an important focus of attention. Behavioral risk factors, such as smoking, affect the length and quality of life after diagnosis. Tracking these behaviors permits evaluation of how well cancer control efforts are working to reduce preventable disability and death among those with a history of cancer.

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 who had smoked at least 100 cigarettes in their lifetime and who, at the time of the interview, reported smoking every day or some days were considered to be currently smoking.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. National Health Interview Survey, 1992–2022.

Refer to the Data Sources page for more information about data collection years 2019+.

  • There is no Healthy People 2030 target for smoking rates among cancer survivors, though Healthy People does include a national objective to increase the mental and physical health-related quality of life of cancer survivors; however, the goal for the general population is to decrease to 5 percent the proportion of people who currently smoke cigarettes.
  • Healthy People 2030 Targets are developed and based on the general population and do not account for differences in the age distribution of cancer survivors compared to the general population. Cancer survivors are typically older than those in the general population who have not had cancer.

Healthy People 2030 is a set of goals set forth by the Department of Health and Human Services.
Note: Goals are indicated as blue line on Detailed Trend Graphs.

Life After Diagnosis