Why Smoking is Especially Bad If You Have Diabetes

Smoking and Diabetes

What Is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a group of diseases in which blood sugar levels are higher than normal. Most of the food a person eats is turned into glucose (a kind of sugar) for the body’s cells to use for energy. The pancreas, an organ near the stomach, makes a hormone called insulin that helps glucose get into the body’s cells. When you have diabetes, your body either doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use the insulin very well. Less glucose gets into the cells and instead builds up in the blood.1

There are different types of diabetes. Type 2 is the most common in adults and accounts for more than 90% of all diabetes cases. Fewer people have type 1 diabetes, which most often develops in children, adolescents, or young adults.2

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How Is Smoking Related to Diabetes?

We now know that smoking causes type 2 diabetes. In fact, smokers are 30–40% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than nonsmokers. And people with diabetes who smoke are more likely than nonsmokers to have trouble with insulin dosing and with controlling their disease.3

The more cigarettes you smoke, the higher your risk for type 2 diabetes.3 No matter what type of diabetes you have, smoking makes your diabetes harder to control.

If you have diabetes and you smoke, you are more likely to have serious health problems from diabetes. Smokers with diabetes have higher risks for serious complications, including:4

  • Heart and kidney disease
  • Poor blood flow in the legs and feet that can lead to infections, ulcers, and possible amputation (removal of a body part by surgery, such as toes or feet)
  • Retinopathy (an eye disease that can cause blindness)
  • Peripheral neuropathy (damaged nerves to the arms and legs that causes numbness, pain, weakness, and poor coordination)

If you are a smoker with diabetes, quitting smoking will benefit your health right away. People with diabetes who quit have better control of their blood sugar levels.5

For free help to quit, call 1-800-QUIT NOW (1-800-784-8669) or visit CDC.gov/tips. Spanish-speakers can call 1-855-DÉJELO-YA
(1-855-335-3569) or visit CDC.gov/consejos.

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How Can Diabetes Be Prevented?

Don’t smoke. Smoking increases your chance of having type 2 diabetes.4

Lose weight if you are overweight or obese.6

Stay active. Physical activity can prevent or delay type 2 diabetes in adults who are at high risk for the disease.6

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How Is Diabetes Treated?

Diabetes treatment and management can include:7

  • A healthy diet and physical activity program
  • Weight loss (if overweight or obese)
  • Medicines to control blood sugar by helping the body use insulin better
  • Insulin taken by injections or by using an insulin pump
  • Patient education to address problem-solving and coping skills needed to help manage diabetes and its complications
  • Medicines to control cholesterol and blood pressure

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References

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Basics About Diabetes [last updated 2012 Sept 6; accessed 2014 May 5].
  2. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Diabetes Overview [last updated 2014 Apr 2; accessed 2014 May 5].
  3. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Smoking—50 Years of Progress: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2014 [accessed 2014 May 5].
  4. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. A Report of the Surgeon General. How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease: What It Means to You. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2010 [accessed 2014 May 5].
  5. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease: The Biology and Behavioral Basis for Smoking-Attributable Disease. A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2010 [accessed 2014 May 5].
  6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Diabetes Public Health Resource: Prevent Diabetes [last updated 2012 May 14; accessed 2014 May 5].
  7. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Diabetes Public Health Resource: 2011 National Diabetes Fact Sheet [last updated 2011 May 20; accessed 2014 May 5].

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Bill has diabetes. He quit smoking the day his leg was amputated.

“Having diabetes and being a smoker—my doctors always warned me about the bad things that could happen. Did I listen? No!”

Content provided and maintained by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Please see our system usage guidelines and disclaimer.

What Tobacco Free Florida Can and Can’t Do

As a government agency, the Florida Department of Health and the Bureau of Tobacco Free Florida cannot institute or advocate for new laws. We do, however, help inform the public about tobacco’s health risks and dangers, and local Tobacco Free Partnerships in each of Florida’s counties work to pass tobacco policies.

While there is no law banning the sale of tobacco in Florida, there has been steady progress made in strengthening youth prevention, raising prices of tobacco, restrictions on marketing, and protecting the public from secondhand smoke. All of these efforts limit the impact of tobacco use. Part of this is accomplished through statewide legislation such as the Florida Clean Indoor Air Act (FCIAA), which prohibits smoking in all enclosed workplaces, and Florida’s $1 state cigarette tax increase in 2009, which contributed to the overall decline in smokers in the state.

There has also been legal action in Florida against the tobacco industry and laws to protect the state’s comprehensive tobacco education and use prevention program. On August 25, 1997, Florida became the second state in the nation to settle a lawsuit against the tobacco industry. The tobacco lawsuits were intended to punish cigarette makers for decades of fraud and racketeering and to help states pay for the Medicaid and other public health expenses to cover sick smokers. Florida was among three other states – Texas, Mississippi and Minnesota – that settled with the tobacco industry before the Master Settlement Agreement of 1998 between the tobacco industry and the other 46 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

In 2006, Florida voters overwhelmingly approved a state constitutional amendment requiring that a percentage of the state’s settlement fund must be used for a comprehensive tobacco education and use prevention program. The funding was used to create Tobacco Free Florida. In 2012, Florida’s adult-smoking rate was at 17.7 percent, well below the national average of 19.6 percent. Further, the smoking rate for high school students in Florida dropped to 8.6 percent in 2013, below the national average of 23.3 percent, and the number of youth who have pledged never to smoke increased from 55 percent in 2006 to 67.7 percent.

Local communities can also strengthen many of their laws. We support these efforts by coordinating with and funding local Tobacco Free Partnerships in every county to provide education on these issues.

If you are interested in helping implement change in your community, we encourage you to get involved with your local Tobacco Free Partnership, which works to make tobacco use less acceptable and tobacco products less accessible to youth. For more information, please visit www.tobaccofreeflorida.com/getinvolved.

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Fact Sheet: Health Care Providers

Includes facts about the importance of health care provider interventions and how providers can Team Up to help patients quit.

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Florida Teen Wins Top Award Among Youth Advocates Working Against Tobacco

Magi Linscott, a Santa Rosa County high school student and Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) youth advocate, was named the National Youth Advocate of the Year by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. This is the highest award among the country’s top youth advocates working against tobacco.


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Fresh Air For All

Florida has made many achievements in protecting its residents from the harmful effects of tobacco. Since 2007, with the help of Tobacco Free Florida, there are nearly half a million fewer adult smokers in the state.[1] Yet, both tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke (SHS) remain a critical issue.

Exposure to SHS is a serious problem that should not be overlooked. This year’s Tobacco Free Florida Week theme, “Fresh Air for All,” takes a closer look at how SHS impacts everyone. SHS is a deadly mix of 7,000 chemicals, hundreds of which are toxic and 69 that are proven to cause cancer.[2]

Each year, primarily because of exposure to SHS, an estimated 3,000 nonsmoking Americans die of lung cancer and more than 46,000 nonsmoking Americans die of heart disease.[3] In other words, for every eight smokers who die from smoking, one innocent bystander dies from secondhand smoke.[4]

SHS is classified as a known human carcinogen (cancer-causing agent) by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. National Toxicology Program, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a branch of the World Health Organization (WHO).The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has even concluded that SHS is an occupational carcinogen.[5]

There is no risk-free level of exposure to SHS. Even breathing SHS for short periods of time, like at a bar or a nightclub, can be dangerous.[6] When you breathe SHS, platelets in your blood get sticky and may form clots, just like in a person who smokes. New research shows that simply spending time in a smoky room could trigger a heart attack.[7] Non-smokers who are exposed to SHS increase their risk of developing heart disease by 25 to 30 percent and of developing lung cancer by 20 to 30 percent.[8]

One of the most important ways to protect yourself and the ones you love from the health hazards of SHS is to live in 100 percent smoke-free housing. A home should be a safe place for children. Yet, the main place young children breathe SHS is in their own homes. Exposure to SHS increases their risk of respiratory infections and even common ear infections. Children with asthma, who are exposed to cigarette smoke, are likely to experience more frequent and more severe attacks.[9]

Florida residents benefit from a statewide tobacco prevention and cessation program, as well as Florida’s Clean Indoor Air Act (FCIAA), which protects people from the hazards of SHS. In 2003, the FCIAA was amended to prohibit smoking in indoor workplaces. While the FCIAA protects many, countless Floridians in the nightlife industry, construction and other blue-collar industries are involuntarily exposed to the dangers of SHS while making a living and providing for their families.

Comprehensive smoke-free air laws are crucial to protecting all Floridians from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke. Yet, the simplest step you can take is to quit or to help someone quit. For information on the resources available to help you quit, please visit www.tobaccofreeflorida.com.


[1] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Survey Data. Atlanta, Georgia: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2010

[2] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease: The Biology and Behavioral Basis for Smoking-Attributable Disease: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2010.

[3] American Cancer Society, Source: Cancer Facts & Figures 2010

[4] University of Minnesota, School of Periodontology, Second Hand Smoke Facts. 2003

[5] The Surgeon General, Second Hand Smoke Fact Sheet 6

[6] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Coordinating Center for Health Promotion, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2006

[7] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease: The Biology and Behavioral Basis for Smoking-Attributable Disease: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2010.

[8] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Coordinating Center for Health Promotion, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2006

[9] Surgeon General: The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke, A Report of the Surgeon General. U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA; 2006.


Feeling Stressed?

You May Want to Put Out That Cigarette

Ask Floridians why they’re lighting up and one answer you commonly hear is that smoking relieves stress. You know the dangers of smoking and the benefits of quitting, but the false sense of relaxation from a cigarette can be reason enough to keep puffing, especially when you’re stressed or under pressure.

Smoking isn’t just harsh on your body; it’s cruel to your brain. You may think you’re feeling calmer and less stressed during and right after a cigarette, but it’s just an illusion. In reality, your body is experiencing quite the opposite effect. Smoking increases your blood pressure and heart rate, tenses your muscles, contracts blood vessels, and reduces your blood oxygen level.[i],[ii] Basically, smoking increases the stress level of your body.

The usual stress in your everyday life, when combined with a chemical addiction to nicotine, heightens stress instead of lowering it. Smokers need nicotine to maintain normal mood and suffer tension and stress between cigarettes.[iii],[iv] When you quit, nicotine withdrawal and recovery symptoms may feel unpleasant. But these are common and only temporary.

Moreover, the health consequences of smoking are enough reason to feel stressed. About half of long-term smokers die from diseases caused by their tobacco use.[v] For every person who dies from tobacco use, 20 suffer with at least one smoking-related illness.[vi]

Dealing with Stress

Here are some tips on dealing with stress:

    1. Take a break. Even if it’s just for a few minutes, take a healthy break from what you’re doing whether you’re at home or at work.
  • Deep breathing. Instead of inhaling toxic smoke, try fresh air. Step outside and take slow deep breaths. Close your eyes and then breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. You will feel your body relax.
  • Exercise. Get moving to increase endorphins, the body’s feel-good chemicals, which naturally boost your mood. Exercise also decreases stress hormones. Even a short walk will help you to reduce your stress and improve your health. Exercising can also help you quit smoking and make it easier to quit.
  • Take care of yourself. Especially during stressful times of the year, it’s important to take good care of yourself. Remember to eat healthy balanced meals, drink lots of water, and get enough sleep.
  • Make time for yourself. Sometimes it’s difficult to follow tips one through four with a hectic schedule. Keep your days organized and on track, whether it’s with a to-do list, a planner or whatever works for you.

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[i] Institute of Medicine. Secondhand Smoke Exposure and Cardiovascular Effects: Making Sense of the Evidence. Washington: National Academy of Sciences, Institute of Medicine, 2009

[ii] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease: The Biology and Behavioral Basis for Smoking-Attributable Disease: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2010

[iii] Parrott, A. C, & Gamham, N. J. (1998). Comparative mood states and cognitive skills of cigarette smokers, deprived smokers and nonsmokers.Human Psychopharmacology, 13, 367-376.

[iv] Parrott, A. C, Garnham, N. J., Wesnes, K., & Pincock, C. (1996). Cigarette smoking and abstinence: Comparative effects upon cognitive task performance and mood state over 24 hours. Human Psychopharmacology,11, 391-400.

[v] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. A Report of the Surgeon General: How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease: What It Means to You. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2010

[vi] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cigarette Smoking-Attributable Morbidity—United States, 2000. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 2003;52(35):842–4 [accessed 2012 Jan 24].