10 of the Worst Diseases Smoking Causes | American Lung Association

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10 of the Worst Diseases Smoking Causes

Smoking cigarettes will kill you, but before you die, you could experience some pretty terrible diseases and health conditions from smoking. Here are some of the most gruesome diseases caused by smoking*:

  1. Lung Cancer

    lung cancer

    More people die from lung cancer than any other type of cancer. Cigarette smoking is the number one risk factor for lung cancer; it's responsible for 87 percent of lung cancer deaths. Your chance of still being alive five years after being diagnosed is less than 1 in 5.

  2. COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)

    COPD

    COPD is an obstructive lung disease that makes it hard to breathe. It causes serious long-term disability and early death. COPD starts by making it hard to be active, such as playing with a grandchild, then usually gets worse, until climbing a short set of stairs or even walking to get the mail is exhausting or impossible. It can leave people stuck in their homes, unable to do the things they want or see friends. About 80 percent of all COPD is caused by cigarette smoking. COPD is the third leading cause of death in the United States.

  3. Heart Disease

    Heart Disease

    Smoking harms nearly every organ in your body, including your heart. Smoking can cause blockages and narrowing in your arteries, which means less blood and oxygen flow to your heart. When cigarette consumption in the U.S. decreased, so did the rates of heart disease. Yet, heart disease still remains the number one cause of death in the U.S.

  4. Stroke

    Stroke

    Because smoking affects your arteries, it can trigger stroke. A stroke happens when the blood supply to your brain is temporarily blocked. Brain cells are deprived of oxygen and start to die. A stroke can cause paralysis, slurred speech, altered brain function and death. Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States and a leading cause of adult disability.

  5. Asthma

    Asthma

    Asthma is a chronic lung disease that makes it harder to move air in and out of your lungs—otherwise known as "breathing." Because cigarette smoke irritates air passages, it can trigger sudden and severe asthma attacks. Asthma is a serious health condition that affects close to 25 million Americans. Smoking only makes it worse.

  6. Reproductive Effects in Women

    Reproductive Effects in Women

    Smoking can cause ectopic pregnancy in women, which is when a fertilized egg implants somewhere other than the uterus. The egg can't survive and, if left untreated, can be life-threatening for the mother. Smoking also causes reduced fertility, meaning it makes it more difficult to get pregnant.

  7. Premature, Low Birth-Weight Babies

    Premature, Low Birth-Weight Babies

    The effects of smoking not only impact mom's health, but also that of her baby. Smoking while pregnant can cause babies to be born prematurely and/or with a low birth-weight. Babies born too early or too small have increased risk of health complications and even death.

  8. Diabetes

    Diabetes

    You're more likely to get type 2 diabetes if you smoke. The risk of developing type 2 diabetes is 30 to 40 percent higher for smokers than non-smokers. Additionally smoking increases the risk of complications once diagnosed with diabetes, such as heart and kidney disease, poor blood flow to legs and feet (which leads to infections and possible amputation), blindness and nerve damage.

  9. Blindness, Cataracts and Age-Related Macular Degeneration

    Blindness, Cataracts and Age-Related Macular Degeneration

    Smoking can make you go blind. It damages your eyes and can result in vision loss. Age-related macular degeneration is caused by smoking. It is the leading cause of blindness in adults ages 65 and older.

  10. Over 10 Other Types of Cancer, Including Colon, Cervix, Liver, Stomach and Pancreatic Cancer

    Other Cancers

    Basically, all the cancers. For both cancer patients and survivors, those who smoke are more likely to develop a second primary cancer. And now we know that smoking causes at least a dozen cancers, including liver and colorectal, and reduces the survival rates for prostate cancer patients.

*For a more complete list of the diseases caused by smoking, check out the 2014 Surgeon General's Report - Health Consequences of Smoking – 50 years of Progress
Source: The Health Consequences of Tobacco Use:  50 Years of Progress, page 2.


Did You Know?

  1. More than 1 in 4 high school students in the U.S. use at least one tobacco product, including e-cigarettes, according to the 2015 National Youth Tobacco Survey.
  2. 7.4 percent of middle school students use at least one tobacco product, including e-cigarettes.
  3. A 2014 article in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that about 8 million lives have been saved through tobacco control efforts since 1964, including 800,000 lung cancer deaths between 1975 and 2000.
  4. Smoking is the number one preventable cause of death in the U.S., killing over 480,000 people per year.
  5. Secondhand smoke kills more than 41,000 people in the U.S. each year.
  6. 28 states and Washington D.C. have passed laws making almost all public places and workplaces, including restaurants and bars smokefree.
  7. New York has the highest cigarette tax in the country at $4.35 per pack.
  8. Missouri has the lowest cigarette tax in the country at 17 cents per pack.
  9. The average of all states plus the District of Columbia's cigarette taxes are $1.65 per pack.
  10. Eight states have taxes on other tobacco products equivalent to their state's cigarette taxes.
  11. Alaska and North Dakota are the only states that are funding their tobacco control programs at or above the CDC-recommended level (in Fiscal Year 2017).
  12. Four states increased their cigarette taxes in 2016.
  13. No state approved a comprehensive smokefree workplace law in 2016.
  14. 8 states – California, Connecticut, Indiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, North Dakota and Ohio – offer a comprehensive cessation benefit to tobacco users on Medicaid.
  15. Each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia provide tobacco quitlines, a phone number for quit smoking phone counseling. The average amount states invest in quitlines is $3.46 per smoker in the state.
  16. California and the District of Columbia passed legislation increasing their minimum sales ages for tobacco products to 21 in 2016.
  17. California, Hawaii and over 200 communities in 14 different states have passed Tobacco 21 laws.
  18. Nationwide, the Medicaid program spends more than $22 billion in healthcare costs for smoking-related diseases each year – more than 11 percent of total Medicaid spending.
  19. In 2009, the American Lung Association played a key role in the passage of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which gives the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authority over tobacco products.
  20. The American Lung Association played a key role in airplanes becoming smokefree in the 1990s.
  21. 41 states and Washington D.C. spend less than half of what the CDC recommends on their state tobacco prevention programs.
  22. States spend less than two cents of every dollar they get from tobacco settlement payments and tobacco taxes to fight tobacco use.
  23. Each day, close to 2,500 kids under 18 try their first cigarette and about 400 kids become new, regular smokers.
  24. Each day, more than 2,100 kids try their first cigar. On average, close to 90 kids try their first cigar every hour in the United States – equaling more than 780,000 every year.
  25. Smoking costs the U.S. economy over $332 billion in direct health care costs and lost productivity every year.
  26. The five largest cigarette companies spent over $23 million dollars per day marketing their products in 2014.
  27. Secondhand smoke causes $5.6 billion in lost productivity in the U.S. each year.
  28. Smoking rates are over twice as high for Medicaid recipients compared to those with private insurance.
  29. A 2013 study of California's tobacco prevention program shows that the state saved $55 in healthcare costs for every $1 invested from 1989 to 2008.
  30. A 2012 study of Massachusetts' comprehensive Medicaid quit smoking benefit found that Massachusetts saved $3 for every $1 spent helping smokers quit in just over a year.
  31. Missouri became the first state to eliminate all barriers to receiving tobacco cessation treatments for its Medicaid enrollees.
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