How does tobacco affect my health?

Your Health and Tobacco

At this point, most people know tobacco is really bad for them. Every now and then someone tells us about their superhero uncle who lived to be 112 years old and smoked, but unlikely things like getting struck by lightning also happen. In reality, tobacco use is the leading cause of disability, disease and preventable death in the United States. Every year, we learn more about how devastating tobacco can be to the human body and how damaging secondhand smoke is to those around it.

Smoking causes coronary heart disease, the leading cause of death in the U.S.

Smoking causes lung cancer and lung diseases including COPD, emphysema, bronchitis, and chronic airway obstruction.1 2

Health Effects of Smoking

Smoking also causes the following cancers3

  • Acute myeloid leukemia
  • Bladder cancer
  • Cancer of the cervix
  • Cancer of the esophagus
  • Kidney cancer
  • Cancer of the larynx (voice box)
  • Lung cancer
  • Cancer of the oral cavity (mouth)
  • Cancer of the pharynx (throat)
  • Stomach cancer
  • Cancer of the uterus
 

Compared to non-smokers, smoking is estimated to increase the risk of:

Coronary heart disease by 2 to 4 times 4 5

Stroke by 2 to 4 times6 7

Men developing lung cancer by 23 times8

Women developing lung cancer by 13 times9

Dying from chronic obstructive lung diseases by 12 to 13 times10
(such as chronic bronchitis and emphysema)

On average, smokers die 13 to 14 years earlier than non-smokers.11

What if I Chew or Dip?

Smokeless tobacco products, such as spitting tobacco, dip, chew, snuff and snus, are also harmful to your health and are not a safer alternative to smoking.12

Smokeless tobacco users have:

80 percent higher risk of oral cancer13

60 percent higher risk of pancreatic and esophageal cancer14

 

Smokeless tobacco use can cause the following cancers:

  • Cancer of the esophagus
  • Cancer of the pharynx (throat)
  • Cancer of the larynx (voice box)
  • Stomach cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer

Spit tobacco also causes leukoplakia, a disease of the mouth characterized by white patches and oral lesions on the cheeks, gums, and/or tongue. Leukoplakia, which can lead to oral cancer, occurs in more than half of all users in the first three years of use. Studies have found that 60 to 78 percent of smokeless tobacco users have oral lesions15,16

For more information on smokeless tobacco, click here»


References

1U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Smoking: 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, 2004

2Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Annual Smoking-Attributable Mortality, Years of Potential Life Lost, and Productivity Losses—United States, 2000–2004. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 2008;57(45):1226–8

3U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Smoking: 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, 2004

4U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Smoking: 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, 2004

5U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Reducing the Health Consequences of Smoking: 25 Years of Progress. A Report of the Surgeon General. Rockville (MD): U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 1989

6U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Smoking: 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, 2004

7Ockene IS, Miller NH. Cigarette Smoking, Cardiovascular Disease, and Stroke: A Statement for Healthcare Professionals from the American Heart Association. Circulation 1997;96(9):3243–7

8U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Smoking: 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, 2004

9U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Smoking: 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, 2004

10U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Smoking: 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, 2004

11Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Annual Smoking-Attributable Mortality, Years of Potential Life Lost, and Productivity Losses—United States, 1995–1999. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 2002;51(14):300–3

12Cancer Prevention & Early Detection Facts and Figures 2010

13Boffetta, P, et al., “Smokeless tobacco and cancer,” The Lancet 9:667-675, 2008.

14Boffetta, P, et al., “Smokeless tobacco and cancer,” The Lancet 9:667-675, 2008.

15Hatsukami, D & Severson, H, “Oral Spit Tobacco: Addiction, Prevention and Treatment,” Nicotine & Tobacco Research 1:21-44, 1999.

16“The Smokeless Tobacco Outreach and Prevention Guide,” Applied Behavioral Science Press, 1997.