Why Is Tobacco Use Important to Health?
Each year, smoking kills 480,000 Americans, including about 41,000 from exposure to secondhand smoke. Smoking causes cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and lung diseases such as emphysema, bronchitis, and chronic airway obstruction, and can lead to lung cancer and heart disease in those exposed to secondhand smoke. On average, smokers die 10 years earlier than nonsmokers .
Tobacco is not only smoked. Smokeless tobacco, while less lethal than smoked tobacco, can lead to various cancers, gum and teeth problems, and nicotine addiction. Almost 6% of young adults use smokeless tobacco and half of new users are younger than 18 .
Tobacco use has real economic impacts for individuals and communities. It costs the nation about $170 billion annually to treat tobacco-related illnesses, and another $156 billion in productivity losses. In 2006, over $5 billion of that lost productivity was due to secondhand smoke .
Researchers estimate that tobacco control policies have saved at least 8 million Americans . Yet about 18% of adults still smoke. Each day, nearly 3,200 youth smoke their first cigarette, and 2,100 transition from occasional to daily smokers .
Continuing to adopt and implement tobacco control policies can motivate users to quit, help youth choose not to start, and improve the quality of the air we all breathe.