Historically, lung cancer was considered to be a rare disease prior to World War I and was perceived as something most physicians would never see during their career.
With the postwar rise in popularity of cigarette smoking came a virtual epidemic of lung cancer.
Smoking most commonly leads to diseases affecting the heart and lungs and will most commonly affect areas such as hands or feet with first signs of smoking related health issues showing up as numbness, with smoking being a major risk factor for heart attacks, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema, and cancer, particularly lung cancer, cancers of the larynx and mouth, and pancreatic cancer.
The association of smoking with lung cancer is strongest, both in the public perception and etiologically.
SCLC may originate from neuroendocrine cells located in the bronchus called Feyrter cells.
The risk of dying from lung cancer before age 85 is 22.1% for a male smoker and 11.9% for a female smoker, in the absence of competing causes of death.
Tobacco use is a significant factor in miscarriages among pregnant smokers, and it contributes to a number of other health problems of the fetus such as premature birth, low birth weight, and increases by 1.4 to 3 times the chance of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Several countries have taken measures to control the consumption of tobacco with usage and sales restrictions as well as warning messages printed on packaging.
Cigarettes sold in underdeveloped countries tend to have higher tar content, and are less likely to be filtered, potentially increasing vulnerability to tobacco smoking related disease in these regions.
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." According to a 2014 review in the New England Journal of Medicine, tobacco will, if current smoking patterns persist, kill about 1 billion people in the 21st century, half of them before the age of 70.