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Tobacco

Young girl pretend holding a no smoking sign on black board

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Tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of disease, disability, and death in the United States, yet more deaths are caused each year by tobacco use than by all deaths from human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), illegal drug use, alcohol use, motor vehicle injuries, suicides, and murders combined.1, 2

In 2009, an estimated 20.6% of all American adults age 18 and older—46.6 million people—smoked,3 and every day another 850 young people age 12 to 17 began smoking on a daily basis.4 As a result of widespread tobacco use, approximately 443,000 Americans die from tobacco-related illnesses, such as cancer and heart disease, each year. An estimated 49,000 of these deaths are the result of secondhand smoke exposure.1 For every person who dies from tobacco use, another 20 suffer from at least one serious tobacco-related illness.5

Tobacco use poses a heavy burden on the U.S. economy and medical care system. Each year, cigarette smoking costs more than $193 billion in medical care costs, while secondhand smoke costs an additional $10 million.1, 6 Tobacco use is thus one of the Nation’s deadliest and most costly public health challenges.


The Tobacco Use Leading Health Indicators are:


Health Impact of Tobacco Use

Tobacco use in any form—even occasional smoking—causes serious diseases and health problems, including:

  • Several forms of cancer, including cancers of the lung, bladder, kidney, pancreas, mouth, and throat
  • Heart disease and stroke
  • Lung diseases, including emphysema, bronchitis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Pregnancy complications, including preterm birth, low birth weight, and birth defects
  • Gum disease
  • Vision problems

Secondhand smoke from cigarettes and cigars also causes heart disease and lung cancer in adults and a number of health problems in infants and children, including:

  • Asthma
  • Respiratory infections
  • Ear infections
  • Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)

Smokeless tobacco causes a number of serious oral health problems, including cancer of the mouth and gums, periodontal disease, and tooth loss.

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References

1Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Annual smoking—attributable mortality, years of potential life lost, and productivity losses—United States, 2000–2004. MMWR. 2008;57(45):1226–1228. Available from http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5745a3.htm

2Mokdad AH, Marks JS, Stroup DF, et al. Actual causes of death in the United States. JAMA. 2004;291(10):1238–1245.

3Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vital signs: current cigarette smoking among adults aged ≥ 18 years—United States, 2009. MMWR. 2010;59(35):1135–1140. Available from http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5935a3.htm?s_cid=mm5935a3_w

4Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Results From the 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: National Findings. Rockville, MD: 2010. Available from http://www.oas.samhsa.gov/NSDUH/2k9NSDUH/tabs/Cover.pdf [PDF - 93KB]

5Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cigarette smoking—attributable morbidity—United States, 2000. MMWR. 2003;52(35):842–844. Available from http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5235a4.htm

6Behan DF, Eriksen MP, Lin Y. Economic Effects of Environmental Tobacco Smoke Report. Schaumburg, IL: Society of Actuaries; 2005. Available from http://www.soa.org/files/research/projects/etsreportfinaldraft(final-3).pdf [PDF - 546KB] External Web Site Policy

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