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Tobacco Facts

Secondhand Smoke

  • The current Surgeon General's Report concluded that scientific evidence indicates that there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke.
  • Secondhand smoke has been classified by the Environmental Protection Agency as a known cause of cancer in humans.
  • Secondhand smoke causes an average of 1,150 deaths in Missouri annually (dhss.mo.gov).
  • Secondhand smoke contains hundreds of chemicals known to be toxic or carcinogenic, including formaldehyde (embalming fluid), benzene (found in car fuel), arsenic (rat poison), carbon monoxide (car exhaust fumes), and hydrogen cyanide (used in the gas chamber).
  • Secondhand smoke causes almost 50,000 deaths in adult nonsmokers in the United States each year.
  • Levels of secondhand smoke in restaurants and bars were found to be 2 to 5 times higher than in residences with smokers.
  • Secondhand smoke is responsible for 430 sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) deaths in the United States annually.
  • Secondhand smoke causes 150,000 to 300,000 lung infections annually in children younger than 18 months.
  • Tobacco use is linked with reduced fertility and a higher risk of miscarriage, early delivery, stillbirth, and infant death.

    -American Lung Association: Secondhand Smoke Fact Sheet


  • Cigarette smoke contains over 4,800 chemicals, 69 of which are known to cause cancer.
  • Smoking is directly responsible for approximately 90 percent of lung cancer deaths and approximately 80-90 percent of COPD deaths.
  • One billion people will die from tobacco-related causes by the end of the century if current consumption trends continue. (Global report by the World Health Organization).
  • Every year, almost 10,000 Missourians die from tobacco-related diseases (dhss.mo.gov).
  • The tobacco industry uses several tactics to market tobacco products specifically to women. The industry appeals to women in a variety of ways, such as:
    • Weight Loss
    • Being Fashionable
    • Acceptance
    • Independence
  • About 8.6 million people in the U.S. have at least one serious illness caused by smoking.
  • Smoking-related diseases claim an estimated 420,000 American lives each year.
  • The list of diseases caused by smoking includes: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD, including chronic bronchitis and emphysema), coronary heart disease, stroke, abdominal aortic aneurysm, acute myeloid leukemia, cataract, pneumonia, periodontitis, and bladder, esophageal, laryngeal, lung, oral, throat, cervical, kidney, stomach, and pancreatic cancers.
  • Smoking is also a major factor in a variety of other conditions and disorders, including slowed healing of wounds, infertility, and peptic ulcer disease.
  • Nicotine is an addictive drug, which when inhaled in cigarette smoke reaches the brain faster than drugs that enter the body intravenously.
  • Cigarette smoking accounts for at least 30% of all cancer deaths.
  • Males that smoke are more likely to have sexual impotence.
  • Adults that smoke have lost an average of 14.5 years of their life due to smoking.
  • Smoking kills more people than alcohol, AIDS, car accidents, illegal drugs, murders, and suicides combined.
  • The health damage of a pack of cigarettes a day is about the same as carrying around 60 or more extra pounds of fat.

-American Lung Association: Secondhand Smoke Fact Sheet

Cigar Smoking

  • A single large cigar can contain as much tobacco as an entire pack of cigarettes.
  • Cancer of the lung, oral cavity, larynx and esophagus have been shown to be caused by regular cigar smoking.
  • Cigar smoking has similar consequences to cigarette smoking including four to ten times the risk of dying from oral, esophageal or laryngeal cancer in comparison to nonsmokers.

-American Lung Association: Secondhand Smoke Fact Sheet


  • Compared to a single cigarette, hookah smoke is known to contain: higher levels of arsenic, lead, and nickel, 36 times more tar, 15 times more carbon monoxide.
  • Smoking a hookah requires taking longer and harder drags, increasing levels of inhaled nicotine and carcinogens in the lungs.
  • The longer the hookah session, the more nicotine and toxins one takes in.
  • A 45 to 60 minute hookah session exposes the smoker to approximately the same amount of tar and nicotine as one pack of cigarettes.
  • Sharing mouthpieces without washing them can increase the risk of spreading colds, flu, and infections-even oral herpes.
  • Health risks of smoking hookahs include cancer, heart disease, lung damage, and dental disease.
  • MYTH: Smoking a hookah is not as addictive as smoking a cigarette because there is no nicotine.
  • TRUTH: Just like regular tobacco, shisha contains nicotine. In fact, in a 60-minute hookah session, smokers are exposed to 100 to 200 times the volume of smoke inhaled from a single cigarette.
    • MYTH: Herbal shisha is healthier than regular shisha.
    • TRUTH: Just like smoking herbal or "natural" cigarettes, herbal shisha exposes the smoker to tar and carcinogens.

-American Lung Association: Secondhand Smoke Fact Sheet

Smokeless Tobacco

  • Smokeless tobacco products are not a safe substitute for tobacco smoking. Harmful health effects include:
    • oral cancer
    • pancreatic cancer
    • addiction to nicotine
    • leukoplakia (white sores in the mouth that can become cancer)
    • receding gums (gums slowly shrink away from around the teeth)
    • bone loss around the roots of the teeth
    • abrasion (scratching and wearing down) of teeth
    • tooth loss
    • stained teeth
    • bad breath
    • Leukoplakia is a white sore or patch in the mouth that can become cancerous. Almost 3 out of 4 of daily users of moist snuff and chewing tobacco have non-cancerous or pre-cancerous lesions (sores) in the mouth.

-American Lung Association: Secondhand Smoke Fact Sheet

Smoking & Your Pets

  • Dogs found in a smoking household had a 60 percent greater risk of lung cancer.
  • Cats are three times as likely to develop lymphoma if they are exposed to secondhand smoke.
  • When pets are exposed to secondhand smoke they may develop: cancer, heart disease, skin and eye problems, bronchitis, pneumonia, and other lung problems.
  • The amount of nicotine in a single cigarette butt can make a bird, cat or small dog very ill or die.

Nicotine Addiction

  • Tobacco companies add ammonia to cigarettes which increases the addictive effects of nicotine
  • The nicotine in tobacco is as addictive as heroin and cocaine
  • A person can become addicted to nicotine after smoking only one or two cigarettes
  • In the US, there are 2.4 million people who try cigarettes for the first time each year. Half of them become addicted

Costs of Smoking

  • The average household has to pay $630 extra in taxes for the burden of smoking-caused gov't spending.
  • The tobacco industry spends over $20 million annually lobbying congress.
  • Tobacco companies make two billion dollars a year in sales from underage smokers.
  • Smoking cost the United States over $193 billion in 2004, including $97 billion in lost productivity and $96 billion in direct health care expenditures, or an average of $4,260 per adult smoker.
  • 72% of sales professionals consider tobacco smoke odor offensive in the workplace.
  • 37% reported that tobacco odor has negatively affected their relationship with a client, customer or coworker.
  • Smokers are absent from work two more days per year than non-smokers.

Minorities & Tobacco

  • Of the three major causes of death in Blacks-heart disease, cancer and stroke-tobacco use is a key contributor.
  • Black men are at least 50% more likely to develop lung cancer than white men.
  • 72% of Blacks are exposed to secondhand smoke compared to 50% of whites and 45% of Hispanics.
  • Blacks are disproportionately employed in labor and factory jobs (40% compared to the national average of 27.3%), which have the highest rates of exposure to secondhand smoke.
  • Blacks comprise roughly 12% of the restaurant workforce, which has the least protection from smoke-free laws.
  • Nationally, an estimated 16.2% of Hispanic adults smoke cigarettes, and lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths among Hispanics.
  • Tobacco products are advertised and promoted disproportionately to Hispanics and other minority communities.
  • 36.2% of American Indians/Alaskan Natives smoke, compared to 25.6% of whites.
  • American Indian and Alaska Native lands are sovereign nations and are not subject to state laws prohibiting the sale and promotion of tobacco products to minors.°
  • The death rate among Native people due to tobacco abuse is twice that of the U.S. population as a whole. On average, 3 out of 5 Native American smokers die of tobacco use.
  • Asian American smokers are 2 times more likely to be occasional smokers.
  • A higher density of tobacco billboards are found in Asian American communities, and the lowest proportion is found in white communities.

Tobacco & the Environment

  • Nearly 500,000 acres of forest are lost each year due to the tobacco industry's need for wood for fuel in the drying process.
  • In southern Africa alone more than 1400 square kilometers of indigenous woodlands are removed each year for tobacco curing. This accounts for 12% of the annual deforestation in the region.
  • The fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides used on tobacco plants poison farm workers (usually children in Africa), seep into the soil and pollute waterways, and poison livestock and food crops.
  • As litter cigarettes cost taxpayers billions every year. Local governments are particularly hardhit by the costs of cleaning up cigarette litter, the most abundant type of litter.
  • Public agencies in California are already spending hundreds of millions of dollars annually on litter cleanup.
  • Tossed into gutters and on the shoulders of roads, cigarette butts will likely travel through storm drains and enter our watershed.

LGBT & Tobacco

  • LGBT people smoke at rates almost 50% to 200% higher than the rest of the population.
  • In a national study 45% of females and 35% of males reporting same-sex attraction or behavior smoked. In comparison, only 29% of the rest of the youth smoked.
  • American Cancer society estimates that over 30,000 LGBT people die each year of tobacco-related illness.
  • An early tobacco industry document described the plan for increasing sales among San Francisco's gay and homeless populations, it was labeled "Project SCUM".
  • In the US, tobacco kills more people each day than AIDS, alcohol, car accidents, firearms, and illegal drugs combined.
  • Emphasis on bars and restaurants as social opportunities for LGBT people create added exposure to secondhand smoke.
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