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The Hazards of Cigarette Smoking

Cigarette Smoking Causes Disease, Illness and Premature Death


Updated April 16, 2014

How many times have you tried to quit smoking? After reading this article, you will have an opportunity to share your story.

It is a well-known fact that cigarette smoking is hazardous to your health. It's an irony of sorts, then, why so many people do it. The hazards of smoking are numerous, affecting even the unborn child as it sits innocently in its mother's womb.

For those with even the slightest desire to quit, the following cigarette smoking fact sheet may help:

  • According to the American Lung Association, cigarette smoking is the most important source of disease and illness and/or premature death worldwide.
  • Each year, 438,000 Americans lose their lives to smoking-related illnesses.
  • Cigarettes contain more than 4,800 chemicals - 69 of these are known to cause cancer.
  • Nicotine is a highly addictive drug, which, when inhaled, reaches the brain faster than any injectable drug, including heroin. This is part of the reason why quitting is so difficult.
  • Parents who smoke can create health problems for their children, including exacerbation of asthma, increased frequency of colds and/or ear infections and sudden infant death syndrome.
  • Cigarette smoking is responsible for a number of serious illnesses including COPD, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, abdominal aortic aneurysm, pneumonia, gum disease, cataracts and many forms of cancer. It can also lead to infertility, slower healing wounds, and peptic ulcer disease.
  • Approximately 8.6 million Americans have at least one smoking-related illness.
  • Among those who still smoke, chronic lung disease accounts for 73% of all smoking-related illnesses. In former smokers, chronic lung disease accounts for 50% of all smoking-related conditions.
  • Every year, secondhand smoke is responsible for 3,400 lung cancer deaths and 46,000 heart disease deaths in the United States alone.
  • Tobacco advertising plays a significant role in the addiction process as it encourages young people to begin a lifelong relationship with cigarettes before they are even old enough to understand the impact that smoking has on their health.
  • In 2006, more than 6% of middle school students were current smokers while 20% of all high school students reported being current smokers in 2007.

Smoking cessation is an important aspect of disease prevention in adults and young people alike. Currently, there are 7 medications approved by the FDA to help people quit. Because quitting smoking often requires multiple attempts, stop smoking aids coupled with either individual, group or telephone counseling are highly recommended to increase the chances of a successful quit attempt.

For more information on smoking cessation, stop by COPD's Quit Smoking Section or About.com's Smoking Cessation Guide Site. Visit About.com's Addictions Guide Site to learn more about addiction to nicotine or other substances.


American Lung Association Smoking 101 Fact Sheet. August, 2008.

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