Quit Smoking Blog
Smoking Cessation Tips
Quit Smoking Stress
Stop Smoking Benefits
Quit Smoking Questions
The Costs Of Smoking
|20 Questions Answered
About Smoking & Your Health
1. Is there a safe way to smoke?
No. All cigarettes can cause damage to the human body and even a small
amount is dangerous. Cigarettes are perhaps the only legal product
whose advertised and intended use is harmful to the body and is a
proven cause of cancer.
Although some people try to make their
smoking habit safer by smoking
fewer cigarettes, most smokers find that difficult. Some people think
that switching from high tar and nicotine cigarettes to those with low
tar and nicotine content makes smoking safer, but this is not always
true. When people switch to lower tar and
nicotine brands, they often
smoke more cigarettes or more of each cigarette to get the same
nicotine dose as before. A low-tar cigarette can be just as harmful as
a high-tar cigarette when a person takes deeper puffs, puffs more
frequently, or smokes cigarettes to a lower butt length. Even if
smokers who switch to lower tar brands do not make these changes to
compensate, the health benefits are insignificant when compared to the
quitting smoking completely.
cigarette smoking really addictive?
Yes. The nicotine in cigarette smoke is what causes an addiction to
smoking. Nicotine is a drug which is addicting just like heroin and
cocaine for three main reasons. First, when taken in small amounts,
nicotine produces pleasurable feelings that make the smoker want to
smoke more. Second, smokers usually become dependent on nicotine and
suffer both physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms when they
stop smoking. These symptoms include nervousness, headaches,
irritability, and difficulty in sleeping. Third, because nicotine
affects the chemistry of the brain and central nervous system, it can
affect the mood and temperament of the smoker.
3. Who is most likely to become addicted?
Anyone who starts smoking is at risk of becoming addicted to nicotine.
Studies show that among addictive behaviors such as the use of alcohol
and other drugs,
cigarette smoking is most likely to become an
established habit during adolescence. Therefore, when young people
cigarette smokers they are more likely to become addicted and
more likely to suffer from the variety of health problems caused by
4. What does nicotine do?
Nicotine is a poison and taken in large doses could kill a person by
muscles. Smokers usually take it in small amounts that the body can
quickly break down and get rid of, which is why the nicotine does not
kill instantly. The first dose of nicotine causes a person to feel
awake and alert, while later doses result in a calm, relaxed feeling.
Nicotine can make new smokers, and regular smokers who get too much of
it, feel dizzy or nauseous. The resting heart rate for young smokers
increases 2 to 3 beats per minute. It also lowers skin temperature and
reduces blood flow in the legs and feet. Evidence shows that nicotine
plays an important role in increasing smokers' risk of heart disease
5. Does smoking cause cancer?
Yes. Tobacco smoke contains at least 43 carcinogenic (cancer-causing)
substances and is the NUMBER ONE preventable cause of cancer.
Smoking causes many kinds of cancer, not just lung cancer. Tobacco use
30%, or one in three, of all cancer deaths in the United States.
Smoking is responsible for almost 90% of lung cancers among men and
more than 70% among women, about 83% overall. Cancer of the mouth,
larynx, pharynx, esophagus, kidney, bladder, pancreas, and uterine
cervix also have in common cigarette smoking as a major cause.
6. How does cigarette smoke affect the
Cigarette smoking causes several lung diseases that can be just as
dangerous as lung
cancer. Chronic bronchitis - a disease where the airways produce
excess mucus, which
forces the smoker to cough frequently - is a common ailment for
smoking is also the major cause of emphysema - a disease that slowly
destroys a person's ability to breathe.
In order for oxygen to reach the blood, it must move across large
surfaces in the lungs.
Normally, thousands of tiny sacs make up about 100 square yards of
surface area in the
lungs. When emphysema occurs, the walls between the sacs break down
and create larger but fewer sacs, significantly decreasing the amount
of oxygen reaching the blood.
Eventually, the lung surface area can become so small that a person
with emphysema has to spend most of the time gasping for breath, with
an oxygen bottle near by or with
oxygen tubes inserted into the nasal cavity.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes chronic
emphysema, kills about 81,000 people each year; cigarette smoking is
more than 65,000 of these deaths.
7. What in cigarette smoke is harmful?
Cigarette smoke is a complex mixture of organic and inorganic
compounds generated by the combustion (burning) of tobacco and
additives. Cigarette smoke contains tar, which is made up of over
4,000 chemicals, including the 43 known to cause cancer. Some of these
substances cause heart and respiratory diseases, all of which are
disabling and can cause death. You might be surprised to know some of
the chemicals found in cigarette smoke. They include: cyanide,
benzene, formaldehyde, methanol (wood alcohol), acetylene (the fuel
used in torches), and ammonia. It also contains the poisonous gases
nitrogen oxide and carbon monoxide. Its main active ingredient is
nicotine, an addictive drug.
cigarette smoking affect the
Smoking cigarettes increases the risk of heart disease, which is
one killer. Almost 180,000 Americans die each year from cardiovascular
by smoking. Smoking, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and
lack of exercise
are all risk factors for heart disease, but smoking alone doubles the
risk of heart disease. Among those who have previously had a heart
attack, smokers are more likely than nonsmokers to have another.
9. How does smoking affect pregnant women
and their babies?
Pregnant women who smoke endanger the health and lives of their unborn
babies. Babies of smoking women average 6 ounces less at birth than
babies of nonsmoking women. When a pregnant woman smokes, she really
is smoking for two because the nicotine, carbon monoxide, and other
dangerous chemicals in smoke enter her bloodstream and pass directly
into the baby's body. Statistics show a direct relation between
smoking during pregnancy and spontaneous abortions, stillbirths, death
among newborns, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Research
shows that the risk of SIDS triples for babies of mothers who smoke
during pregnancy; two-thirds of SIDS deaths among babies of women who
smoked during pregnancy can be attributed to smoking. Mounting
evidence in recent years has also made it clear that children of
mothers who smoke have higher than normal risks of developing asthma,
especially if the mother smokes during pregnancy. Exposure to
second-hand smoke also makes a child’s asthma more severe than it
would be otherwise, and increases the child’s risk of pneumonia,
bronchitis, and fluid in the middle ear.
10. What are some of the short- and
long-term effects of
Smoking causes cancer, which may not develop for years. Regardless of
smokers are lucky enough to escape cancer, the truth is inescapable:
cigarette smokers die
younger than nonsmokers. In fact, smoking decreases a person's life
expectancy by 10 -12 years. Smokers between the ages of 35 and 70 have
death rates three times higher than those who have never smoked. There
are many more short-term effects of smoking. A major consequence of
smoking is decreased lung function which is why smokers often suffer
from shortness of breath, nagging coughing, or tiring easily during
strenuous physical activity. Smoking also diminishes the ability to
smell and taste and causes premature aging of skin.
11. What are the dangers of environmental
tobacco smoke (ETS), or passive smoking, or second-hand smoke?
Passive smoking occurs when nonsmokers inhale the tobacco smoke
created by smokers (environmental tobacco smoke). ETS, also known as
second-hand smoke, includes mainstream smoke, which is smoke drawn
through the mouthpiece of a cigarette, pipe, or cigar that is then
exhaled into the air by smokers, and side stream smoke, the smoke that
comes directly from the burning tobacco before it reaches the smoker.
ETS contains the same harmful chemicals as the smoke that smokers
inhale. In fact, because side stream smoke is formed at lower
temperatures, it gives off even larger amounts of cancer-causing
substances. At least 43 of the chemicals taken in by those breathing
ETS are known cancer-causing substances, and ETS is now classified by
the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a Group A carcinogen
(known to cause cancer in humans).
ETS causes lung cancer in healthy nonsmokers. A nonsmoker who is
married to a smoker has a 30% greater risk of developing lung cancer
than a nonsmoker living with a
nonsmoker. Children whose parents smoke are more likely to suffer from
bronchitis in the first two years of life than children who live in
Several studies have also established a link between parental smoking
and the occurrence of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Children of
parents who smoke have a twofold increased risk of dying of SIDS.
Mounting evidence in recent years has also made it clear that children
of mothers who smoke have higher than normal risks of developing
asthma, especially if the mother smokes during pregnancy. It is well
known that second-hand smoke also makes a child’s asthma more severe
than it would be otherwise, and increases the child’s risk of
pneumonia, bronchitis, and fluid in the middle ear. ETS can also
affect nonsmokers by causing eye irritation, headaches, nausea, and
12. Is smoking common among young people?
Yes. Tobacco use, including smoking cigarettes, chewing tobacco, and
remains common among American youth. About 35 percent of high school
about 13 percent of middle school students surveyed in 1998 and 1999
users of some form of tobacco, with about 8 percent reporting they
smoked their first
cigarette before age 11. About 80 percent of adult smokers started
smoking when they
were 17 or younger.
Cigarettes are the most common form of tobacco used by young people,
with 9.2 percent of middle school students and 28.5 percent of high
school students reporting being current cigarette smokers. Among
different ethnic groups, whites are more commonly cigarette smokers or
users of smokeless tobacco than blacks or Hispanics in high school,
with less difference among the groups in middle school.
The 1998-1999 report shows that many non-smoking young people are
environmental tobacco smoke from those around them. In the week just
surveyed, approximately half the nonsmoking students surveyed were in
the same room as someone smoking, and almost one-third rode in a car
in which someone was smoking. About 80 percent of all young persons
believe smoke from others is harmful to them. Each day, approximately
6,000 young persons try a cigarette and approximately 3,000 become
daily smokers. In 1997, regular smokers between 12 and 17 smoked over
900 million packs of cigarettes. If current patterns of smoking
behavior persist, an estimated 5 million American young people 17 and
younger in the year 2000 could die prematurely in future years from
smoking-related illnesses. These projected patterns of smoking and
smoking-related deaths could result in an estimated $200 billion (in
1993 dollars) in future health-care costs and approximately 64 million
years of potential life lost. Statistics also show that students who
use other drugs, get in fights, carry weapons, attempt suicide, and
engage in high-risk sexual behaviors are more likely to smoke
13. What are the chances that smoking
will kill you?
About four million people die worldwide each year as a result of
smoking. In the United
States, tobacco use is responsible for nearly one in five deaths,
killing more than 400,000 Americans each year. This is more than the
number of people who would die every year if three jumbo jets crashed
each day with no survivors. Smoking is the single most preventable
cause of death in our society. Statistically, smokers die 10 - 12
years younger than non-smokers.
14. How many people smoke cigarettes?
In 1998, the latest year for which figures are available, 24.1% of
adults --about 48 million
people-smoked cigarettes. Approximately 26% of men and 22% of women
reported being smokers in 1998, reflecting a continuing decline in the
percentage of Americans who smoke. African-Americans smoke about the
same as whites, 24% and 25%, respectively. Ethnic groups with the
lowest smoking rates are Hispanics (19.1%) and Asians/Pacific
Islanders (13.7%). Education level seems to affect smoking rates as
shown by a consistent decrease in the smoking rate in groups with a
higher level of education. About 37% of those with less than a high
school education smoke, while only about 11% of those with a college
education or more smoke.
15. Why do people begin to smoke?
Most people begin smoking between the ages of 10 and 18. Peer pressure
and curiosity are the major influences that encourage them to
experiment with smoking. Also, people with parents who smoke are more
likely to begin smoking than those who have nonsmoking parents. Those
who begin to smoke at a younger age are more likely than late starters
to develop long-term nicotine addiction.
Another prevalent influence in our society is the tobacco industry's
advertisements for its
products. The tobacco industry spends nearly $6 billion annually to
develop and market
ads that depict smoking as an exciting, glamorous, healthy adult
16. Can quitting really help a lifelong
Yes. It is never too late to
quit smoking. The sooner smokers quit, the more
they can reduce their
chances of getting cancer and other diseases. Within 20 minutes of
smoking the last
cigarette, the body begins a series of regenerating changes. After 20
pressure drops to normal. After 8 hours, the carbon monoxide level in
the blood drops to
normal. After 24 hours, the chance of heart attack decreases. After
one year, the risk of
coronary heart disease is half that of a smoker. In 1 to 9 months,
congestion, fatigue, and shortness of breath decrease and cilia regrow
in the lungs. After 10 years, the lung cancer death rate decreases by
almost half. After 15 years, the risk of coronary heart disease is
that of a non-smoker. It is important to note that the extent to which
these risks fall depends on the total amount the person smoked, the
age the person started smoking, and the amount of inhalation.
17. If you smoke but don't inhale, is
there any danger?
Yes. Wherever smoke touches living cells, it does harm. Even if
smokers don't inhale -
including pipe and cigar smokers - they are at an increased risk for
lip, mouth, and tongue cancers. Because it is virtually impossible to
avoid inhaling smoke totally, these smokers are also increasing their
risk of getting lung cancer.
18. Suppose I smoke for a while and then
Smoking begins to cause damage right away and is highly addictive.
Several studies have found nicotine to be as addictive as heroin,
cocaine, or alcohol; it is the most common form of drug addiction in
the United States. Therefore, it is obviously better never to start
smoking cigarettes and become addicted to nicotine than it is to smoke
with the intention of quitting later. And like alcohol, heroin, and
cocaine, nicotine creates a permanent tolerance in the body. When an
ex-smoker smokes a cigarette, even years after quitting, the nicotine
reaction may be triggered, quickly hooking the person on the old
19. Why do smokers have "smoker's cough"?
Cigarette smoke contains chemicals that irritate the air passages and
lungs. When a
smoker inhales these substances, the body tries to protect itself by
coughing. The well known "early morning" cough of smokers happens for a
different reason. Normally, cilia (tiny hair like formations lining the
airways) beat outward and sweep harmful material out of the lungs.
Cigarette smoke, however, decreases the sweeping action, so some of
the poisons in the smoke remain in the lungs. When a smoker sleeps,
some cilia recover and begin working again. After waking up, the
smoker coughs because the lungs are trying to clear away the poisons
that built up the previous day. Unfortunately, prolonged exposure to
smoke completely destroys the cilia's ability to function. Then the
smoker's lungs are even more exposed and susceptible than before,
especially to airborne bacteria and viruses.
20. How does tobacco use affect the
The tobacco industry is one of the most profitable businesses in the
country; in 1998
tobacco manufacturers' revenue was $50 billion. Nevertheless, the
costs of smoking are
far higher than the income from cigarette sales. Medical costs alone
caused directly by
smoking total between $50 billion and $73 billion each year. Lost
caused by smoking also costs the US economy more than $50 billion each
totals more than $100 billion lost each year to health care costs and
lost productivity due to smoking. Of course these numbers represent
only the financial costs. No statistic can express the devastation of
pain and suffering caused by
Where May I Go for Additional Help?
It is difficult to fight any addiction, and smoking is no different.
But you can quit! More than 40 million Americans have successfully
quit smoking. Call the human resources office where you work; many
companies have information about employee cessation programs. A
variety of organizations offer information on how to quit and where to
go for help. If you want to quit smoking and need help, talk with your
health care provider and contact one of the following organizations.
They can provide you with current information, advice, and suggestions
for beginning the end of your tobacco use.
American Cancer Society
American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists
Internet Address: http://www.acog.org
American Heart Association
Telephone Number: 800-242-1793 (call center) or 800-242-1793 or
Internet Address: http://www.amhrt.org
American Lung Association
Telephone: (800) 586-4872 or 212-315-8700
Internet Address: http://www.lungusa.org
National Cancer Institute
Cancer Information Service
Telephone: 800-4-CANCER or 800-422-6237
Internet Address: http://www.nci.nih.gov
National Women's Health Information Center (NWHIC)
Telephone: 800-994-WOMAN or 800-994-9662
Internet Address: http://www.4woman.org
Internet Address: http://www.nicotine-anonymous.org
Office on Smoking & Health
National Center for Disease Prevention and Health Promotion
Internet Address: http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco
Agency for Health Care Policy and Research, Clinical Practice
Cessation, No. 18, AHCPR, Rockville, Md, April 1997.
Centers for Disease Control. Best practices for comprehensive
control programs --
August 1999. Atlanta, Ga: US Department of Health and Human Services,
Service, CDC, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and
Office on Smoking and Health, 1999.
Fiore MC, Smith SS, Jorenby DE, Baker TB. The effectiveness of the
nicotine patch for
smoking cessation. A meta-analysis. Journal American Medical
Association. 1995; Jan
18: 273 (3): 181.
Glantz, Stanton. Tobacco Biology and Politics, Health Edco, 1994,
Hurt RD, Sachs DPL, Glover ED et al. A comparison of sustained-release
smoking cessation, New England Journal of Medicine,
October 23, 1997; 337:
17. Joad JP. Smoking and pediatric respiratory health. Clin Chest Med.
46,vii-viii. Review. PMID:10763088; UI: 20226298.
Stapleton JA, Russell MA, Feyerabend C, et al. Dose effects and
predictors of outcome inha randomized trial of transdermal
nicotine patches in general
practice. Addiction, Jan.
1995; 90 (1): 31-42.
The Health Benefits of
Smoking Cessation. Centers for Disease Control
DDHS Publication No. (CDC) 90-8416, 1990.
Tonnesen P, Norregaard J, Simonsen K, Sawe U. A double-blind trial of
nicotine patch in
smoking cessation. New England Journal
August 1, 1991; 325: 5: 311-315.
Tonnesen P et al. Two and four mg nicotine chewing gum and group
smoking cessation: an open, randomized, controlled trial with a 22
Addictive Behaviors. 1988; 13 (1): 17-27.
Transdermal Nicotine Study Group.
Transdermal nicotine for
results from two multicenter controlled clinical trials. Journal
Association. Dec 11, 1991; 266 (22): 3133-3138.
US Department of Health & Human Services. Minor's Access to Tobacco:
Fact Sheet. A
Report of the Surgeon General. Available at
US Department of Health & Human Services. Reducing the Health
Smoking: 25 years of Progress. A Report of the Surgeon General. USD
CCD PHP Office of Smoking & Health, 1989. DHHS Publ# (CDC) 89-8411.
US Department of Health and Human Services.
Reducing Tobacco Use: A
Report of the
Surgeon General. Atlanta, Georgia: US Department of Health and Human
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for
Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2000.
Publ# S/N 017-
US Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of
Nicotine Addiction: A Report of the Surgeon General. US DHHS, PHS,
CDC. Office on
Smoking and Health. DHHS Publ# (CDC) 88-8406.
Youth Tobacco Surveilance - United States 1998-1999 Morbidity and
Report Oct 13, 2000. Vol. 49, No. SS-10; 1-93.
email us now for more