Tobacco products continue to be responsible for an unacceptable level of death, illness and suffering throughout the world, and California is no exception. It may surprise you how many people die each year from secondhand smoke. 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, and second hand smoke continues to be a risk factor for diseases such as cancer, consumption of other tobacco products also puts the public’s health at risk.
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 Second hand smoke can cause preventable illnesses as well, so when considering how many people die from smoking each year, secondhand smoke related illnesses and deaths are important to consider.
Smoking harms nearly every organ in the body and increases the risk of:5 6
Cigarette smokers are 20x more likely to develop lung cancer than nonsmokers.
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 and cause second hand smoke 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
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:
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 and many do produce harmful second hand smoke. The number of deaths from tobacco products and from second hand smoke is still too high. We are working towards zero deaths from tobacco products by 2050 and you can help us reach this goal – contact your local health department to find out how you can help make this possible.