NIDA InfoFacts: Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products
Through the use of cigarettes, cigars, and chewing tobacco, nicotine is one of the most heavily used addictive drugs in the United States. In 2004, 29.2 percent of the U.S. population 12 and older—70.3 million people—used tobacco at least once in the month prior to being interviewed.* This figure includes 3.6 million young people age 12 to 17. Young adults aged 18 to 25 reported the highest rate of current use of any tobacco products (44.6 percent) in 2004.
Findings for high school youth indicate that 25.9 percent of 8th-graders, 38.9 percent of 10th-graders, and 50.0 percent of 12th-graders had ever smoked cigarettes when asked in 2005.** These figures were lower for all three grades from 2004 data, and for 8th-graders and 12th-graders, the decreases were statistically significant.
Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that tobacco use remains the leading preventable cause of death in the United States, causing approximately 440,000 premature deaths each year and resulting in an annual cost of more than $75 billion in direct medical costs attributable to smoking. (See www.cdc.gov/tobacco/issue.htm.) Over the past four decades, cigarette smoking has caused an estimated 12 million deaths, including 4.1 million deaths from cancer, 5.5 million deaths from cardiovascular diseases, 2.1 million deaths from respiratory diseases, and 94,000 infant deaths related to mothers smoking during pregnancy. (See www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/publications/aag/osh.htm.)
Secondhand smoke, also known as environmental tobacco smoke, is a mixture of the smoke given off by the burning end of tobacco products (sidestream smoke) and the mainstream smoke exhaled by smokers. It is a complex mixture containing many chemicals (including formaldehyde, cyanide, carbon monoxide, ammonia, and nicotine), many of which are known carcinogens. Nonsmokers exposed to secondhand smoke at home or work increase their risk of developing heart disease by 25 to 30 percent and lung cancer by 20 to 30 percent. In addition, secondhand smoke causes respiratory problems in nonsmokers such as coughing, phlegm, and reduced lung function. Children exposed to secondhand smoke are at an increased risk for sudden infant death syndrome, acute respiratory infections, ear problems, and more severe asthma.
Reprinted with the permission of the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
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