Smoking, which is an addiction, is the most preventable cause of death in our society. The American Cancer Society estimates that cigarette smoking is responsible for more than 80 percent of all lung cancer deaths. Smoking is also associated with: — cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus (Upper intestinal tract), pancreas, cervix, kidney and bladder. Smoking accounts for about 1 out of every three cancer deaths in the United States, and is a major cause of heart disease. It is also associated with a wide range of other conditions including stroke, emphysema chronic bronchitis and gastric (stomach) ulcers. Approximately one-half of smokers begin smoking before they are 18 years of age. Smoking rates are higher among African-Americans, economically disadvantaged individuals, and those with less formal education. The tobacco industry also heavily markets cigarette smoking to people and communities of color. Therefore, people of color and especially their youth are very vulnerable to the industry’s targeted advertising and promotion efforts.
Tobacco smoke contains more than 4,000 chemical compounds including more than 40 cancer producing (carcinogenic) substances. According to a U.S. Surgeon General’s report, nicotine is the drug in tobacco that causes addition. There are major and immediate benefits from smoking cessation, or quitting smoking. They include a decreased risk of multiple cancers, heart disease and stroke.
Non-smokers who are exposed to the tobacco smoke of others, called passive smokers, in essence are involuntary smokers. Environmental tobacco smoke also causes heart disease and lung cancer. It can also cause asthmatic conditions. Children in households where one or both parents smoke have more respiratory illnesses and infections of the middle ear (otitis media). Use of smokeless tobacco, such as chewing tobacco and snuff, is a very addictive habit that is associated with an increased risk of oral cancer.
Six Quick Tips about cigarette smoking.
- There is no safe way to smoke.
- Most people who develop lung cancer die from it.
- Pregnant women who smoke are more likely to have a miscarriage, premature baby, or stillbirth.
- Menthol cigarettes, which more African-Americans smoke, are not safer than non-menthols.
- People who don’t smoke are likely to live longer.
- Nursing mothers and caregivers who smoke double or triple an infant’s chances of dying from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), also described in our glossary.
Want to Quit Smoking? View our Smoking Tip Sheet