What are the dangers of tobacco use?
According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control, "Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable disease, disability, and death in the United States." Tobacco use includes smoking cigarettes, vaping nicotine, chewing tobacco, snuff, smoking pipes, and smoking cigars. All forms of tobacco use increase a person's risk for cancer. Tobacco use also increases risks for stroke, heart disease, birth defects, early aging, breathing problems, stomach problems, and a wide array of other conditions. Tobacco use negatively affects every part of the human body.
Who still smokes?
Despite all that is known about tobacco use and its dangers, 15.5% of the adult population in the U.S. still smokes. Fortunately, the number of smokers has decreased and fewer young people smoke than they used to. Some groups are at higher risk for smoking. Those with a serious mental health condition are the most likely to smoke. Also, smoking is higher in groups that face increased discrimination such as minorities or lesbian, gay, and bi-sexual people.
What to do if you smoke
The best thing that someone who uses tobacco can do for their health and those around them is to quit as soon as possible. Smoking not only harms you but it harms those around you (second-hand smoke). New research has shown that even after smoking, chemicals can wear off of your clothes and body and hurt others. This is called third-hand smoke. Smoking can be incredibly hard to quit. Nicotine is one of the strongest addictions to break. Some say getting off of cigarettes can be harder than quitting hard drugs like heroin! To increase your chances of quitting tobacco, talk to your doctor, a therapist, or both. A combination of counseling and medicine can increase your chances of successfully quitting.
Resources and information:
The Center for Disease Control: Tobacco Fact Sheet
DoSomething.org: 11 Facts About Teen Smoking