Content Map Terms
What does this tool help you learn?
This interactive tool can be used to estimate the impact that smoking will have on your lifespan. Based on the number of cigarettes you smoked in the past and how many you will smoke from now until the date you plan to quit, this tool estimates how many years the damaging effects of smoking may take away from your life.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2002). Annual smoking-attributable mortality, years of potential life lost, and economic costs—United States, 1995–1999. MMWR, 51(14): 300–303. Also available online: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5114a2.htm.Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (1994). Surveillance for selected tobacco-use behaviors—United States, 1900–1994. MMWR, 43(SS-3): 1–43. Also available online: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/PDF/ss/ss4303.pdf.U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Center for Health Statistics (2009). Table 26. Life expectancy at birth, at 65 years of age, and at 75 years of age, by race and sex. In Health, United States, 2008 With Chartbook, p. 203.
What does your score mean?
The damage caused by smoking varies from person to person. This tool uses an estimate based on statistical averages to increase your awareness of how smoking may be impacting your life.
This tool does not calculate the long-term impact smoking will have on the quality of your life and the lives of people you care about. The disabling effects of smoking-related illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, or emphysema can cause significant suffering and medical expense, regardless of whether they directly affect the number of years of your life.
How much time smoking takes from your life also depends on lifestyle choices other than smoking, such as eating habits and exercise. These things may increase or decrease the amount of time your life will be shortened by smoking.
Quitting smoking can be difficult, especially if you have been smoking for a long time. It may take several tries before you succeed. But even if you have a strong dependence on nicotine, it is still possible to quit. And even if you have smoked for many years, quitting smoking now can still increase your lifespan and improve the quality of your life.
The best way to stop smoking is to get help and to follow a plan. You can increase your chances of quitting if you:
- Take medicines, such as bupropion (Zyban) or varenicline (Champix).
- Use nicotine replacement therapy (gum, lozenges, patches, or inhalers).
- Get counselling (by phone, group, or one-on-one).
Taking medicine and getting counselling works even better for quitting smoking.
If you are looking for information on quitting smoking or smokeless tobacco products, see:
- Quitting Smoking: Getting Support .
- Electronic Cigarettes .
- Quitting Smokeless Tobacco .
- Health Risks Related to Smokeless Tobacco .
- Risks of Smoking Cigars and Pipes .
If you are not sure about your readiness to quit smoking, use the interactive tool Are You Ready to Quit Smoking?
Other Works Consulted
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (1994). Surveillance for selected tobacco-use behaviors—United States, 1900–1994. MMWR, 43(SS-3): 1–43. Also available online: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/PDF/ss/ss4303.pdf.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2002). Annual smoking-attributable mortality, years of potential life lost, and economic costs—United States, 1995–1999. MMWR, 51(14): 300–303. Also available online: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5114a2.htm.
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Center for Health Statistics (2009). Table 26. Life expectancy at birth, at 65 years of age, and at 75 years of age, by race and sex. In Health, United States, 2008 With Chartbook, p. 203.
Current as of: October 28, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Brian D. O'Brien MD - Internal Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
John Hughes MD - Psychiatry
Lisa S. Weinstock MD - Psychiatry
Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Important Phone Numbers
If you or someone you know needs help, call one of the numbers below:
- 9-1-1 if you are in an emergency.
- 8-1-1 for non-emergency information on how to access alternatives to toxic drug supply and substance use services
- 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) if you are considering suicide or are concerned about someone who may be.
- 310Mental Health Support at 310-6789 (no area code needed) for emotional support, information and resources specific to mental health.
- Kid’s Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868 to speak to a professional counsellor, 24 hours a day.
- Alcohol & Drug Information and Referral Service at 1-800-663-1441 (toll-free in B.C.) or 604-660-9382 (in the Lower Mainland) to find resources and support.
Looking for help with mental health and substance use? Start here wellbeing.gov.bc.ca
Find over 2500 service listings related to mental health and substance use supports, as well as many informational articles to support you on your pathway to wellbeing.