Tobacco use is the most preventable cause of death in the U.S. Cigarette smokers are two to four times more likely to develop heart disease than nonsmokers, and 10 times as likely to develop PAD.
People who smoke are at an increased risk for heart attack, stroke and circulatory problems, as well as cancer, lung disorders and reproductive health issues.
Tobacco products (cigarettes, cigars and pipes) contain about 4,000 chemicals - more than 60 of which are known to cause cancer in humans. Every time you inhale a cigarette, cigar or pipe, you inhale chemicals such as:
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
People become addicted to tobacco because of nicotine, a drug that affects the central nervous system.
Cigarette smoking is the most common form of nicotine addiction in the U.S. Nicotine is both a stimulant (having effects like caffeine) and depressant (having effects like alcohol).
During smoking, nicotine is absorbed into the bloodstream and travels to the brain in 10 seconds. The smoker gets a "kick" because the brain releases chemicals that cause pleasure. The effects of the nicotine last only a few minutes, leading to a sense of depression. This leads to the need for more nicotine.
According to the National Institutes of Health, a person who smokes will take 10 puffs on a cigarette during a 5-minute period. A person who smokes 30 cigarettes a day gets 300 "hits" of nicotine to the brain.
The addiction to nicotine is what makes quitting difficult (but not impossible).
Smokeless tobacco products (snuff and chewing tobacco) are not safe. They contain many toxins and high levels of nicotine.
Cigarette smoking has been linked to about 90 percent of all lung cancer cases and one-third of all cancers. Smoking:
An estimated 45.1 million (20.9 percent) of all adults smoke cigarettes in the U.S. Smoking is more common among men than women.
Secondhand smoke causes an estimated 22,700 to 69,600 deaths from heart disease each year in the U.S. among nonsmokers.
On average, children are exposed to more secondhand smoke than nonsmoking adults.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
In 1 year of quitting smoking, your risk of heart disease is reduced by more than half. Quitting also reduces the risk of a second heart attack if you've already had one.
Source: National Institutes of Health
Secondhand smoke contains smaller amounts of the same chemicals in cigarettes. Secondhand smoke is a mix of smoke exhaled by smokers and smoke coming from the tips of cigarettes and other tobacco products.
Secondhand smoke contains more than 250 chemicals known to be toxic or cause cancer. It has been listed as a known cause of cancer. According to the U.S. Surgeon General, secondhand smoke in the United States:
If you smoke, your goal is to quit smoking. The benefits of quitting happen right away and continue many years later:
Quitting may be difficult, but it isn't impossible. To get help quitting, talk with a member of your health care team.
Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Helping Your Heart, fourth edition, cvs-ahc-90648
Allina Health's Patient Education Department experts
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