The #1 Preventable Cause of Death

Tobacco products continue to be responsible for an unacceptable level of death, illness and suffering throughout the world, and California is no exception. In fact, nearly 40,000 Californians die every year from tobacco-related diseases.1 2 Although cigarette smoking continues to be the primary way that people consume tobacco, consumption of other tobacco products also puts the public’s health at risk.

Cigarettes

The use of cigarettes as the primary way of consuming tobacco did not become popular until the early 1900s. Cigarette smoking peaked in 1965 in the United States, when about 50 percent of men and 33 percent of women smoked. Even though smoking rates have drastically gone down in the last few decades, smoking still kills more people than HIV, illegal drugs, alcohol, motor-vehicle injuries, suicides and murders combined.3 4

Smoking harms nearly every organ in the body and increases the risk of:5 6

  • Coronary heart disease by two to four times.
  • Stroke by two to four times.
  • Lung cancer in men by 23 times.
  • Lung cancer in women by 13 times.
  • Chronic obstructive lung diseases (chronic bronchitis and emphysema) by 12 to 13 times.

Cigarette smokers are 20x more likely to develop lung cancer than nonsmokers.

Cigars

Cigar smoking has become popular in recent years. Some people falsely believe that smoking cigars does not pose the same health dangers as smoking cigarettes. But cigars can cause negative health effects just like cigarettes. In fact, cigars can contain up to 70 times as much nicotine as cigarettes7 which is absorbed whether or not the smoke is inhaled.

Cigar smokers are four to 10 times more likely to die than nonsmokers from:7

  • Laryngeal cancer
  • Oral cancer
  • Esophageal cancer

Chew and Snuff

Chew is shredded tobacco leaves that users put between their cheeks and gums. Snuff is a fine-grain tobacco that often comes in tea bag-like pouches that users “pinch” or “dip” between their lower lip and gum. Users of snuff and chew let the tobacco sit in their mouths and suck on its “juices,” which allows nicotine to be quickly absorbed into the bloodstream. The amount of nicotine users get from chew and snuff depends on the brand, quantity and length of time that it is left in. In general, the amount of nicotine absorbed from a can of chewing tobacco is equal to the amount delivered by three to four packs of cigarettes.8

Smokeless tobacco is not a safe alternative to smoking. On the contrary, smokeless tobacco carries its own set of risks that can lead to:

  • Bad breath
  • Cavities
  • Yellow teeth
  • Recession of the gums
  • Mouth sores
  • Mouth cancer
  • Heart disease

Other Tobacco Products

Tobacco companies are constantly looking to develop new products to keep current users addicted and to hook new ones. Currently, these new products include snus, hookah and electronic cigarettes. These are marketed as less dangerous – but don’t believe the lies. They are still addictive and can be deadly.

  • References

    1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Health Consequences and Costs, Smoking-Attributable Mortality (SAM) – SAMMEC, 2000-2004, Atlanta, GA.
    2. State of California Air Resources Board. Proposed Identification of Environmental Tobacco Smoke as a Toxic Air Contaminant, Part B: Health Effects (page 12). Sacramento, CA: June 24, 2005.
    3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Annual Smoking-Attributable Mortality, Years of Potential Life Lost, and Productivity Losses—United States, 2000-2004, Atlanta, GA.
    4. Mokdad, AH., Marks, J.S., Stroup, DF. Gerberding, J.L. "Actual Causes of Death in the United States," Journal of the American Medical Association, 2004;291(10):1238–1245.
    5. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Smoking: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA, 2004.
    6. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Smoking: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA, 2004. Ockene I.S., Miller, N., Cigarette Smoking, Cardiovascular Disease, and Stroke: A Statement for Healthcare Professionals from the American Heart Association. Circulation 1997;96(9):3243–3247.
    7. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Smoking: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA, 2004. Ockene I.S., Miller, N., Cigarette Smoking, Cardiovascular Disease, and Stroke: A Statement for Healthcare Professionals from the American Heart Association. Circulation 1997;96(9):3243–3247. Henningfield, J. E., Fant, R. V., et al., "Nicotine concentration, smoke pH and whole tobacco aqueous pH of some cigar brands and types popular in the United States" Nicotine & Tobacco Research 1(2): 163-168.
    8. Federal Trade Commission, Smokeless Tobacco Report for the Years 2000 and 2001, 2003.
    9. Danaei G, Ding EL, Mozaffarian D, Taylor B, Rehm J, et al. (2009) The Preventable Causes of Death in the United States: Comparative Risk Assessment of Dietary, Lifestyle, and Metabolic Risk Factors. PLoS Med 6(4): e1000058.

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