Lungs of smoker

Chemicals in Cigarettes

The Toll of Tobacco Stats

When You Smoke Your Baby Smokes

Legacy of Former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop

Check out the CDC's Tips From Former Smokers Campaign HERE.

Three decades ago, public outrage killed an automobile model (Ford's Pinto) whose design defects allegedly caused 59 deaths. Yet every year tobacco kills more Americans than did World War II — more than AIDS, cocaine, heroin, alcohol, vehicular accidents, homicide and suicide combined.

Approximately 443,000 people die prematurely from smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke each year.i   According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 24,518 people died of alochol,ii 17,774 died of AIDS,iii 34,485 died of car accidents, 39,147 died of drug use — legal and illegal — 16,799 died of murder and 36,909 died of suicide in 2009.ii

That brings us to a total of 169,632 deaths, far less than the 430,000 that die from smoking annually.

As for the part about World War II, approximately  292,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines were killed in battle during World War II, according to a U.S. Census Bureau April 29, 2004, report in commemoration of the new World War II memorial in Washington, D.C.  An additional 114,000 members of U.S. forces died of other causes during the war, bringing the total to 406,000 people.

Therefore the claim — that smoking kills more people annually than in World War II or from other dangerous diseases and habits — holds up with the CDC and the Census Bureau. On top of this, another 8.6 million people live with a serious illness caused by smoking.i

The list of 599 additives approved by the US Government for use in the manufacture of cigarettes is something every smoker should see. Submitted by the five major American cigarette companies to the Dept. of Health and Human Services, tobacco companies reporting this information were:

  • American Tobacco Company
  • Brown and Williamson
  • Liggett Group, Inc.
  • Philip Morris Inc.
  • R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company

While these ingredients are approved as additives for foods, they were not tested by burning them, and it is the burning of many of these substances which changes their properties, often for the worse. Over 7000 chemical compounds are created by burning a cigarette, many of which are toxic and/or carcinogenic. Carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, hydrogen cyanide and ammonia are all present in cigarette smoke, among many other chemicals. Over 70 known carcinogens are in mainstream smoke, sidestream smoke, or both.iv

It’s chilling to think about not only how smokers poison themselves, but what others are exposed to by breathing in the secondhand smoke. The next time you’re missing your old buddy, the cigarette, take a good long look at this list and see them for what they are: a delivery system for toxic chemicals and carcinogens.
Many of these chemicals are also found in consumer products, but these products have warning labels. While the public is warned about the danger of the poisons in these products, there is no such warning for the toxins in tobacco smoke.

Here are a few of the chemicals in tobacco smoke, and other places they are found: 

  • Acetone – found in nail polish remover
  • Acetic Acid –  an ingredient in hair dye
  • Ammonia – a common household cleaner
  • Arsenic – used in rat poison
  • Benzene – found in rubber cement
  • Butane – used in lighter fluid
  • Cadmium – active component in battery acid
  • Carbon Monoxide – released in car exhaust fumes
  • Formaldehyde – embalming fluid
  • Hexamine – found in barbecue lighter fluid
  • Lead – used in batteries
  • Napthalene – an ingredient in moth balls
  • Methanol – a main component in rocket fuel
  • Nicotine – used as insecticide
  • Tar – material for paving roads
  • Toluene - used to manufacture paint

The American Lung Association is well known for helping people quit smoking. Of course, prevention is better than cure, so we also work hard to educate children about the dangers of tobacco use so they never light up that first cigarette. We're also busy on the state and local levels, influencing policymakers to protect Colorado's workers and residents from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke.


 The Toll of Tobacco in Colorado

  • High school students who smoke: 15.7%v
  • Male high school students who use smokeless or spit tobacco: 11.1% (females use much lower)v
  • Kids (under 18) who become new daily smokers each year: 1,500vi
  • Kids exposed to secondhand smoke at home: 30.9%vii
  • Packs of cigarettes bought or smoked by kids each year: 6.1 millionviii
  • Adults in Colorado who smoke: 16.0%vii

U.S. National Data (2011)

  • High school smoking rate: 18.1%v
  • Male high school students who use smokeless tobacco: 12.8%v
  • Adult smoking rate: 19.3%ix

Deaths in Colorado from Smoking

  • Adults who die each year from their own smoking: 4,300x
  • On average, smokers die 13 to 14 years earlier than nonsmokers.xi

Smoking kills more people than alcohol, AIDS, car crashes, illegal drugs, murders, and suicides combined — and thousands more die from other tobacco-related causes — such as fires caused by smoking (more than 1,000 deaths/year nationwide)xii and smokeless tobacco use.

Smoking-Caused Monetary Costs in Colorado

  • Annual health care costs in Colorado directly caused by smoking: $1.31 billionxiii
  • Portion covered by the state Medicaid program: $319 millionxiii
  • Residents' state & federal tax burden from smoking-caused government expenditures: $570 per householdxiii
  • Smoking-caused productivity losses in Colorado: $1.05 billionxiii

Amounts do not include health costs caused by exposure to secondhand smoke, smoking-caused fires, smokeless tobacco use, or cigar and pipe smoking. Tobacco use also imposes additional costs such as workplace productivity losses and damage to property.

Tobacco Industry Influence in Colorado

  • Annual tobacco industry marketing expenditures nationwide: $10.5 billionxiv
  • Estimated portion spent for Colorado marketing each year: $139.6 millionxv

Smokefree homes

When You Smoke Your Baby Smokes 

When You Smoke Your Baby Smokes is a new iphone app that will explain to new parents the importance of giving their new baby a smoke free environment. Babies new lungs can be harmed by both second hand smoke that occurs when someone is smoking in the home and by third hand smoke that is on the clothes, furniture, cars and other places a person has smoked.

This 4 minute discussion of the harm from smoke and ways parents can protect their baby should be viewed by every parent in a smoker's household. These lessons are particularly important to the health of a baby born prematurely

This lesson has been found to help mothers and fathers resist the urge to re-start smoking in the weeks and months following the birth of a baby.

When You Smoke Your Baby Smokes was written and developed by Dr. Allen Merritt, Neonatologist, at Loma Linda University Children's Hospital in Loma Linda, CA.

 Legacy of Former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop

The American Lung Association in Colorado joins the nation in honoring the memory of C. Everett Koop. Koop passed away on February 25, 2013 at the age of 96. He served as the U.S. Surgeon General from 1982 - 1989 and played a monumental role in educating the public about the dangers of tobacco smoke. While serving as the Surgeon General he issued a series of reports on the dangers of smoking and secondhand smoke exposure, made warning labels on cigarette packs stronger and envisioned a smoke-free society by the year 2000. Smoking rates saw a huge decline during his term in office, going from 38% to 27%. Read more about his legacy here.

 i Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Annual Smoking-Attributable Mortality, Years of Potential Life Lost, and Productivity Losses—United States, 2000–2004. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 2008;57(45):1226–8 [accessed 2011 Mar 11].
 ii Kochanek MA, Xu J, Murphy SL, et al. Deaths: Final Data for 2009. National vital statistics reports; vol 60 no 3. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2011. [accessed 2012 Dec 6]. 
 iv U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. A Report of the Surgeon General: How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease: What It Means to You. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2010 [accessed 2011 Mar 11]. 
 v Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance—United States, 2011. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 2012;61(SS-4) [accessed 2012 Dec 6].
 vi 2005 (campaign for tobacco free kids)
 vii CDPHE Strategic Plan 2011 – 2016
 viii “Factsheet: The Toll of Tobacco in the United States of America,” Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, 2005.“Factsheet: Tobacco Company Marketing to Kids,” Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, 2005.Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), HHS, Results for the 2004 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). Available at:
 ix Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vital Signs: Current Cigarette Smoking Among Adults Aged ≥ 18 Years—United States, 2005–2010. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 2011;60(33):1207–12 [accessed 2012 Jan 24]. 
CDC, "State-Specific Smoking-Attributable Mortality and Years of Potential Life Lost – United States, 2000-2004," (MMWR) 58(2), January 22, 2009.
 xi Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Annual Smoking-Attributable Mortality, Years of Potential Life Lost, and Productivity Losses—United States, 1995–1999. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 2002;51(14):300–3 [accessed 2012 Jun 7]. 
 xii USFA y
 xiii (CDC, Data Highlights 2006 [and underlying CDC data/estimates; CDC's STATE System average annual smoking attributable productivity losses from 1997-2001 (1999 estimates updated to 2004 dollars); CDC, "State-Specific Smoking-Attributable Mortality and Years of Potential Life Lost — United States, 2000-2004," (MMWR) 58(2), January 22, 2009. See also, Zhang, X., et al., "Cost of Smoking to the Medicare Program, 1993," Health Care Financing Review 20(4): 1-19, Summer 1999; Office of Management & Budget, The Budget for the United States Government - Fiscal Year 2000, Table S-8, January 1999; Leistikow, B., et al., "Estimates of Smoking-Attributable Deaths at Ages 15-54, Motherless or Fatherless Youths, and Resulting Social Security Costs in the United States in 1994," Preventive Medicine 30(5): 353-360, May 2000. CDC, "Medical Care Expenditures Attributable to Smoking — United States, 1993," MMWR 43(26): 1-4, July 8, 1994. 
 xiv CDC t
 xv U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Cigarette Report for 2009 and 2010 and Federal Trade Commission Smokeless Tobacco Report for 2009 and 2010. State total a prorated estimate based on cigarette pack sales in state.