Background: Tobacco is the leading cause of death in the United States. The majority of people who smoke begin before age 18.
Objective: Determine the number of smoking-attributable deaths and years of potential life lost (YPLL) in adults that might be saved through interventions to reduce smoking prevalence among children and adolescents.
Methods: Calculation of the smoking-attributable mortality and years of potential life lost by age 85 among the cohort of people aged 18 in 2000.
Results: By age 85, there would be 127,670 smoking-attributable deaths among women and 284,502 deaths among men, for a total 412,172 smoking-attributable deaths in the United States among the cohort of 3,964,704 people aged 18 years alive in 2000. Through large-scale multimedia campaigns and a $1 increase in the price per pack of cigarettes, smoking prevalence could be reduced by 26% and would result in an annual savings of 108,466 lives and 1.6 million YPLL.
Conclusions: Interventions to decrease smoking prevalence among children and adolescents can have large effects on adult mortality.