Smoking and injuries: an overview

Prev Med. 1994 Jul;23(4):515-20. doi: 10.1006/pmed.1994.1070.


Background: Although the disease consequences of cigarette smoking are well documented, smoking may also be associated with increased risk of injury. Our purpose is to provide an overview of this potential association.

Methods: We conducted a literature review.

Results: Cigarettes are the leading cause of death from fire and the second leading cause of fire-related injury. Studies estimate that compared with nonsmokers, smokers appear 1.5 times more likely to have a motor vehicle crash, 1.4-2.5 times more likely to be injured at work, and 2.0 times more likely to suffer other unintentional injuries. A variety of reasons may explain an association between cigarette smoking and injuries; these include (a) direct toxicity; (b) distractibility; (c) smoking-associated medical conditions; and (d) confounding factors, including personality or behavioral characteristics.

Conclusions: Smoking may be an independent risk factor for thermal, motor vehicle, occupational, and other unintentional injuries. Nonsmokers may be at increased risk of injury from the presence of smokers in their environments, e.g., from fires. Societal benefits from decreased smoking prevalence are likely to include reduction of both fatal and nonfatal injuries.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Occupational / statistics & numerical data
  • Accidents, Traffic / statistics & numerical data
  • Attention
  • Burns / etiology
  • Carbon Monoxide / toxicity
  • Comorbidity
  • Confounding Factors, Epidemiologic
  • Fires / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / adverse effects*
  • Wounds and Injuries / etiology*


  • Carbon Monoxide