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In industrial nations, smoking is the most significant single health risk and the leading cause of premature death. Diseases that occur more frequently in smokers include cardiovascular diseases, respiratory diseases and cancer.

In Germany alone, more than 100,000 people per year die from the effects of smoking. In addition, diseases, health symptoms and premature death caused by regular exposure to passive smoke also occur. 

Relevance to society is further increased by the high costs of healthcare for diseases and health problems linked to smoking, as well as possible consequences of illness, such as inability to work or early retirement.

Activities at Robert Koch Institute

In the context of health reporting and health monitoring, the Robert Koch Institute regularly reports on the prevalence of smoking in Germany.

The focus here lies on the description of temporal developments and trends as well as social and regional differences in smoking habits. The results are published in the framework of health reporting and in relevant scientific journals.

Moreover, the results are regularly included in the Addiction Yearbook, which is published by the German Centre for Addiction Issues (DHS), as well as in drug and addiction reports of the federal government.

Research projects and cooperation

The Robert Koch Institute cooperates with other institutions that regularly provide data on the smoking habits of the population. These include primarily the Federal Centre for Health Education (BZgA) in Cologne and the Institute for Therapy Research (IFT) in Munich.

A cooperation agreement with the German Cancer Research Centre (DKFZ) in Heidelberg is also in place. This is reflected in publications, such as the Tobacco Atlas 2009.


Smoking behaviour among children and adolescents in Germany. Results of the cross-sectional KiGGS Wave 2 study and trends

Zeiher J, Starker A, Kuntz B (2018) Journal of Health Monitoring 3(1):38-44 doi: 10.17886/RKI-GBE-2018-025

Developments in smoking behaviour during the transition from adolescence to young adulthood. Results of the KiGGS cohort

Mauz E, Kuntz B, Zeiher J, Vogelgesang F, Starker A, Vogelgesang F, Starker A, Lampert T, Lange C (2018) Journal of Health Monitoring 3(1):62-66 doi: 10.17886/RKI-GBE-2018-029

Smoking during pregnancy. Results of the cross-sectional KiGGS Wave 2 study and trends

Kuntz B, Zeiher J, Starker A, Prütz F, Lampert T (2018) Journal of Health Monitoring 3(1):45-51 doi: 10.17886/RKI-GBE-2018-026

Trends in absolute and relative educational inequalities in adult smoking since the early 2000s: the case of Germany

Hoebel J, Kuntz B, Kroll LE, Finger JD, Zeiher J, Lange C, Lampert T (2018), Nicotine & Tobacco Research 20 (3): 295-302

Time Trends in Cardiometabolic Risk Factors in Adults. Results from three nationwide German examination surveys from 1990–2011

Finger JD, Busch MA, Du Y, Heidemann C,; Knopf H, Kuhnert R, Lampert T, Mensink GBM, Neuhauser H, Schaffrath Rosario A, Scheidt-Nave C, Schienkiewitz A, Truthmann J, Kurth BM (2016) Dtsch Arztebl Int 2016; 113(42): 712-9; DOI: 10.3238/arztebl.2016.0712

Smoking prevalence in Type 2 diabetes: results of the Study of Health in Pomerania (SHIP) and the German National Health Interview and Examination Survey (GNHIES).

Schipf S, Schmidt CO, Alte D, Werner A, Scheidt-Nave C, John U, Steveling A, Wallaschofski H, Völzke H. (2009) Diabet Med; 26:791-797.

Urban-rural disparities in smoking behaviour in Germany

Völzke H, Neuhauser H, Moebus S, Baumert J, Berger K, Stang A, Ellert U, Werner A, Döring A (2006) BMC Public Health 2006, 6:146 doi:10.1186/1471-2458-6-146