How likely is smoking to kill you – and what you can do about it if you can’t quit…


My godmother, Helen, was a heavy smoker.

She fell on hard times after her husband, who she loved dearly, died far too young.

Smoking was partly a crutch, I think, but also something she loved. Always short of money, she made sacrifices to continue smoking, and switched to rolling tobacco.

Terribly unhappy, she always said that she wouldn’t mind dying early, it was just the way she would die that would worry her.


She was nearly 60 when she finally met someone else.

He was fantastic, and she fell completely and utterly in love all over again. Finally, after many years, she was happy again.

And dropped dead three months later.

The way she died would have pleased her, but perhaps the timing less so.

As for me? I miss her deeply.

How likely is smoking to kill you?

While we attributed her death to smoking, in reality we will never know if that was the cause.

Smoking doesn’t mean you are going to die younger, it only increases the likelihood of it happening.

But just how likely is it to kill you?

One thing some organisations do is attribute all smoking related diseases solely to smoking. Unfortunately, some non-smokers also get ‘smoking diseases’ – including lung cancer. So it’s safe to assume a minority of smokers who get ‘smoking diseases’ would have died of those diseases even if they hadn’t smoked.

So I think the 1 in 2 smokers often quoted is probably a over estimation. A better estimate can be found on the NCBI website, which takes into account the rate of smoking diseases suffered by non-smokers.

They estimate that there is a one in third chance smokers over the age of thirty will die of a smoking disease before the age of 85.

How likely is lung cancer to kill you?

The disease we all associate with smoking is lung cancer.

If you smoke, lung cancer has an almost 1 in 5 chance of getting you if you are a male smoker, or just over 1 in 10 chance if you are a woman smoker. (Source: NCBI website.)

Can’t quit smoking? Here’s the alternative no one told you about.

What do you think causes most smoking diseases?

Hint: it’s not nicotine!

Most of the damage of smoking is caused by burning tobacco.

That’s why smokeless alternatives that contain nicotine are far, far safer than smoking.

Research into smokeless tobacco such as SNUS can find no increased risk of death, while scientists estimates e-cigarettes are no more dangerous than coffee (i.e. they carry around 1-2% the danger of cigarettes).

Sadly, it’s too late for my Godmother. Is it too late for you?

Leave a comment: