Skip Navigation  

Tobacco Facts


Want to stop smoking? Click here!


Tobacco use leads to disease and disability:

  • Smoking causes cancer, heart disease, stroke, and lung diseases (including emphysema, bronchitis, and chronic airway obstruction).
  • For every person who dies from a smoking-related disease, 20 more people suffer with at least one serious illness from smoking.

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death:

  • Worldwide, tobacco use causes more than 5 million deaths per year, and current trends show that tobacco use will cause more than 8 million deaths annually by 2030.
  • Cigarette smoking is responsible for about one in five deaths annually (i.e., more than 440,000 deaths per year, and an estimated 49,000 of these smoking-related deaths are the result of secondhand smoke exposure).
  • On average, smokers die 10 years earlier than nonsmokers.

Smoking costs the United States billions of dollars each year. The total economic cost of smoking is more than $300 billion a year including:

  • Nearly $170 billion in direct medical care for adults.
  • More than $156 billion in lost productivity due to premature death and exposure to secondhand smoke.

Thousands of young people begin smoking every day.

  • Each day, nearly 4,000 persons younger than 18 years of age smoke their first cigarette.
  • Each day, about 1,000 persons younger than 18 years of age become new daily cigarette smokers.

Secondhand Smoke
In children, secondhand smoke causes the following:

  • Ear infections
  • More frequent and severe asthma attacks
  • Respiratory symptoms (e.g., coughing, sneezing, shortness of breath)
  • Respiratory infections (i.e., bronchitis, pneumonia)
  • A greater risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)

In children aged 18 months or younger, secondhand smoke exposure is responsible for:

  • An estimated 150,000-300,000 new cases of bronchitis and pneumonia annually
  • Approximately 7,500-15,000 hospitalizations annually in the United States

In adults who have never smoked, secondhand smoke can cause heart disease and/or lung cancer.

Heart Disease

  • For nonsmokers, breathing secondhand smoke has immediate harmful effects on the cardiovascular system than can increase the risk for heart attack. People who already have heart disease are at especially high risk.
  • Nonsmokers who are exposed to secondhand smoke at home or work increase their heart disease risk by 25-30%.
  • Secondhand smoke exposure causes an estimated 46,000 heart disease deaths annually among adult nonsmokers in the United States.

Lung Cancer

  • Nonsmokers who are exposed to secondhand smoke at home or work increase their lung cancer risk by 20-30%.
  • Secondhand smoke exposure causes an estimated 3,400 lung cancer deaths annually among adult nonsmokers in the United States.

There is no risk-free level of contact with secondhand smoke; even brief exposure can be harmful to health.

Spit Tobacco

  • Spit tobacco is also known as chewing tobacco, oral tobacco, spit or spitting tobacco, dip, chew, and snuff. Most people chew or suck (dip) the tobacco in their mouth and spit out the tobacco juices that build up, although “spitless” smokeless tobacco has also been developed. Despite the claims of tobacco companies, spit tobacco is not a safe alternative to smoking.
  • Smokeless tobacco and snuff contain over 3,000 chemicals, 28 of which are known carcinogens (cancer causing agents) which include:
    • Formaldehyde / Embalming Fluid
    • Acetone / Paint Stripper
    • Arsenic / An especially potent poison
    • Ammonia / Toilet bowl cleaner
    • Polonium-210 / Nuclear waste
    • Nicotine / Insecticide
    • Cadmium / Used in car batteries
    • Nickel / Carcinogen
  • The amount of nicotine in a can of smokeless tobacco is roughly 144 milligrams, which is equal to about 80 cigarettes. In other words, one can of snuff or dip equals about four packs of cigarettes.

Spit tobacco causes a wide-variety of short-term health effects including:

  • High blood pressure
  • Sores on cheek, gums, and tongue
  • Cavities/stained teeth
  • Dizziness/nausea
  • Gingivitis
  • Ruined sense of taste and smell

Long term effects of spit tobacco use are:

  • Leukoplakia (mouth disease characterized by white patches and oral lesions on cheek, gum, and/or tongue)
  • Heart attack and stroke
  • Various cancers (mouth, esophagus, pharynx, larynx, stomach, and pancreatic)
  • Tooth and bone loss

Additional smokeless tobacco health facts:

  • Adolescents who use smokeless tobacco are more likely to become cigarette smokers.
  • Smokeless tobacco users are 4-6 times more likely to develop oral cancer compared to non-users and these cancers can form within 5 years of regular use.
  • Smokeless tobacco use has been shown to be a gateway drug not only leading to cigarette smoking, but the use of other drugs such as alcohol, marijuana, cocaine and inhalants.
  • A thirty-minute chew gives you the same amount of nicotine as three cigarettes and a two- can/week snuff dipper delivers the same nicotine as a 1 1/2 pack-a-day cigarette habit.

For more information please visit:

Electronic Cigarettes

Electronic cigarettes (e-cigs) are battery operated devices that heat and vaporize liquid containing nicotine and other toxins. Users inhale and exhale a mix of gases and tiny particles carrying toxins into their lungs and into the air around them, forcing others to breathe in these tiny aerosols. Contrary to popular belief, electronic cigarettes affect our environment and the individuals in it. In fact, research has shown that just five minutes of e-cigarette use has similar effects on the lungs as smoking a regular cigarette. Additionally, airways become obstructed and inflamed for those who use electronic cigarettes containing nicotine.

E-cigs pollute the air

  • E-cigs give off tiny particles that can lodge into the lungs and cause disease
  • These particles can reach concentrations almost as high as were found in businesses before their smoke-free laws

E-cigs emit toxic chemicals, including:

  • Propylene glycol (lung and eye irritant)
  • Formaldehyde and B-nicotyrine (cancer-causing agents)
  • Metal and silicate particles (toxic to human cells)
  • Nicotine (addictive and harmful to unborn babies)

There are currently no regulations on manufacture and sale:

  • No way to know what users are breathing in or emitting to those around them
  • No protection from harmful design flaws

E-cigs can Contain Deadly Nicotine Levels:

  • High levels of nicotine can be absorbed through spills on the skin or by children swallowing the liquid
  • Kentucky has seen a 333% increase in calls to poison control centers caused by e-cigarettes

E-cigs Appeal to Our Youth:

  • Due to effective marketing, non-smoking teens are drawn to e-cigarettes because of appealing, sweet flavors (bubble gum)
  • 1,780,000 teens tried an e-cig in 2012; 160,000 of them were non-smokers
  • Youth who use electronic cigarettes are more likely to graduate to regular cigarettes

For more information, please visit: