Tobacco use, particularly cigarette smoking, is the single most preventable cause of death in the United States. Cigarette smoking alone is directly responsible for approximately 30 percent of all cancer deaths annually in the United States. It also causes chronic lung disease (emphysema and chronic bronchitis), cardiovascular disease, stroke and cataracts.
Cigarette smoking is responsible for most cancers of the larynx, oral cavity and pharynx, esophagus and bladder. The risk of developing smoking-related cancers, as well as noncancerous diseases, increases with your total lifetime exposure to cigarette smoke. Quitting smoking has major and immediate health benefits, including decreasing your risk of lung and other cancers, heart attack, stroke and chronic lung disease.
Smoking during pregnancy can cause stillbirth, low birth weight, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and other serious pregnancy complications.
Cigarette smoking causes 87 percent of lung cancer deaths. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in both men and women. Smoking is also responsible for most cancers of the larynx, oral cavity and pharynx, esophagus and bladder. In addition, it is a cause of kidney, pancreatic, cervical and stomach cancers, as well as acute myeloid leukemia.
Smokeless tobacco is tobacco that is not burned. It is also known as chewing tobacco, oral tobacco, spit or spitting tobacco, dip, chew and snuff. At least 28 chemicals in smokeless tobacco have been found to cause oral cancer, esophageal cancer and pancreatic cancer, and using smokeless tobacco may also cause heart disease, gum disease and oral lesions (mouth sores) other than cancer.
Smokeless tobacco is not a safe substitute for cigarettes. It contains nicotine, which is addictive. Nicotine is absorbed through the lining of the mouth and stays in the blood longer for users of smokeless tobacco than for smokers. There is no scientific evidence that using smokeless tobacco can help you quit smoking.
Secondhand smoke is a combination of the smoke that is released from the end of a burning cigarette and the smoke exhaled from the lungs of smokers. Exposure to secondhand smoke significantly increases the risk of lung cancer and heart disease in nonsmokers, as well as several respiratory illnesses in young children. The EPA has estimated that exposure to secondhand smoke causes about 3,000 lung cancer deaths among nonsmokers and is responsible for up to 300,000 cases of lower respiratory tract infections in children up to 18 months of age in the U.S. each year. For more information, see the NCI fact sheet: Environmental Tobacco Smoke.
Cigarette smoke contains about 4,000 chemical agents, including over 60 carcinogens. Many of these substances, such as carbon monoxide, tar, arsenic, and lead, are poisonous and toxic to the human body. Nicotine is a drug that is naturally present in the tobacco plant and is primarily responsible for a person's addiction to tobacco products, including cigarettes. During smoking, nicotine is absorbed quickly into the bloodstream and travels to the brain in a matter of seconds. Nicotine causes addiction to cigarettes and other tobacco products that is similar to the addiction produced by using heroin and cocaine.
Smoking harms nearly every major organ of your body. The risk of developing smoking-related diseases, such as lung and other cancers, heart disease, stroke and respiratory illnesses, increases with your total lifetime exposure to cigarette smoke. This includes the number of cigarettes you smoke each day, the intensity of smoking (the size and frequency of puffs), the age at which you started smoking, the number of years you have smoked and your secondhand smoke exposure.
Smoking cessation has major and immediate health benefits for men and women of all ages. Quitting smoking decreases the risk of lung and other cancers, heart attack, stroke and chronic lung disease. The earlier you quit, the greater the health benefit. Research has shown that quitting before age 50 reduces your risk of dying in the next 15 years by half compared with people who continue to smoke. Smoking low-yield cigarettes, as compared to cigarettes with higher tar and nicotine, provides no clear benefit to health. For additional information on quitting smoking, see the NCI fact sheet: Questions and Answers About Smoking Cessation.
Courtesy of the National Cancer Institute and the National Institutes of Health
There is no safe level of tobacco use. If you use any type of tobacco product, please protect your health and quit. For help with quitting smoking or using smokeless tobacco, please call 304.399.2881 to learn more about Cabell Huntington Hospital’s smoking cessation program.