European Respiratory Society Monograph, Vol. 42. 2008
Smoking has been practised for more than 7,000 years and is today the most common form of drug abuse worldwide. The use of tobacco seems to have started in South America and was brought to Europe in the 16th century and was, after that, spread out into most major societies within the next 100 years. Today, there are more than one billion smokers worldwide.
There is no doubt that smoking poses the greatest single individual risk factor for premature death. It is alarming to note that, among the five highest risk factors for premature death in 2020, four are closely related to tobacco smoking. It is with sadness, but not surprise, that one can establish the fact that two of these four causes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer, are to be found within the field of pulmonary medicine.