Home HealthTopics Health Centers Reference Library Research
Join us on Facebook Join us on Facebook Share on Facebook

Smoking and Tobacco


More than 47 million adults and 4 million youth in the United States smoke cigarettes. Rates of smoking have dropped over the years, but the current statistics indicate that smoking is still a major health problem and cigarettes continue to cause chronic diseases and death.

The health consequences of smoking are wide ranging and affect all areas of the body. Smoking is a risk factor for many diseases and conditions, including the following:

Smoking and Cancer

Smoking and Cardiovascular Disease

Smoking and Respiratory Diseases

Smoking and Reproductive Effects

Smoking and Overall Health

Reasons Why Quitting Is Hard

If you currently smoke and want to quit, it is important to be aware of the challenges and assemble the resources and support needed for success. First, understand that nicotine is an addictive substance. It reaches the brain faster than drugs that are used intravenously. Users of nicotine become physically, as well as psychologically, addicted. Because nicotine is used socially, this makes it even more difficult to quit.

Smoking can also be difficult to give up because of a person's fear of weight gain and fear of having to deal with the symptoms of withdrawal.

It takes most smokers more than one try to become tobacco free, but persistence pays off! Within 10 years after quitting smoking, an ex-smoker's risk of lung cancer drops to 50% less than the risk for those who continue to smoke. Ten to 15 years after smoking cessation, a smoker's risk of premature death is similar to that for a person who has never smoked. Heart disease and ulcer risks decrease, along with risks of tobacco-related cancers such as esophageal, kidney, pancreatic, adn cervical cancer.

If you are ready to quit smoking, many resources are available to support you through the process:

Help for Smokers and Other Tobacco Users
How to Quit Smoking and Reduce Your Risk of Heart Disease
Quitting Helps You Heal Faster
Quitting Tips
You Can Quit Smoking


2004 Surgeon General's Report: The Health Consequences of Smoking on the Body (Animation)
2004 Surgeon General's Report: The Health Consequences of Smoking on the Body (Text)

For more information:

Go to the Smoking and Tobacco health topic, where you can:

This article is a NetWellness exclusive.

Last Reviewed: Mar 18, 2009

Karen L Ahijevych, PhD, RN, FAAN Karen L Ahijevych, PhD, RN, FAAN
Professor Emeritus
College of Public Health
College of Nursing
The Ohio State University

Mary Ellen Wewers, PhD, MPH Mary Ellen Wewers, PhD, MPH
Professor of Health Behaviors & Health Promotion
College of Public Health
The Ohio State University