Tobacco use remains the leading preventable cause of death in the United States, causing more than 400,000 deaths each year and resulting in an annual cost of more than $50 billion in direct medical costs.
Each year, smoking kills more people than AIDS, alcohol, drug abuse, car crashes, murders, suicides, and fires---combined!
Nationally, smoking results in more than 5 million years of potential life lost each year.
Approximately 80% of adult smokers started smoking before the age of 18. Every day, nearly 3,000 young people under the age of 18 become regular smokers.
More than 5 million children living today will die prematurely because of a decision they will make as adolescents---the decision to smoke cigarettes.
Since the release in 1964 of the first Surgeon Generals report on smoking and health, the scientific knowledge
about the health consequences of tobacco use has greatly increased. It is now well documented that smoking
can cause chronic lung disease, coronary heart disease, and stroke, as well as cancer of the lung, larynx,
esophagus, mouth, and bladder. In addition, smoking is known to contribute to cancer of the cervix, pancreas,
and kidney. Researchers have identified more than 40 chemicals in tobacco smoke that cause cancer in humans
and animals. Smokeless tobacco and cigars also have deadly consequences, including lung, larynx, esophageal,
and oral cancer.
Studies also indicate that nonsmokers are adversely affected by environmental tobacco smoke. Researchers have identified more than 4,000 chemical compounds in tobacco smoke; of these, at least 43 cause cancer in humans and animals. Each year, because of exposure to environmental tobacco smoke, an estimated 3,000 nonsmoking Americans die of lung cancer, and 300,000 children suffer from lower respiratory tract infections.
Particularly alarming is the fact that more than 3 million young people under age 18 smoke half a billion cigarettes each year and that more than one-half of them consider themselves dependent upon cigarettes.
The decision to use tobacco is nearly always made in the teen years, and about one-half of young people usually continue to use tobacco products as adults.
Today, nearly 3,000 young people across our country will begin smoking regularly. Of these 3,000 young people,
1,000 will lose that gamble to the diseases caused by smoking. The net effect of this is that among children living
in America today, 5 million will die an early, preventable death because of a decision made as a child.
Donna E. Shalala, PhD
Secretary, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
An estimated 47 million adults in the United States smoke cigarettes, even though this behavior will result in death or disability for half of all regular users. Tobacco use is responsible for more than 430,000 deaths each year, or one in every five deaths. Paralleling this enormous health burden is the economic burden of tobacco use: more than $50 billion in medical expenditures and another $50 billion in indirect costs.
The harmful effects of smoking do not end with the smoker. Women who use tobacco during pregnancy are more
likely to have adverse birth outcomes, including babies with low birth weight, a leading cause of death among
infants. The health of nonsmokers is adversely affected by environmental tobacco smoke (ETS). Each year,
exposure to ETS causes an estimated 3,000 nonsmoking Americans to die of lung cancer and causes up to
300,000 children to suffer from lower respiratory tract infections. Evidence also indicates that exposure to ETS
increases the risk of coronary heart disease.
CDC Tips - Tobacco Information and Prevention Source: http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/