Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable disability, disease, and death in the U.S., prematurely killing close to half a million adults each year from secondhand smoke exposure or smoking (1).

  • 1,900 kids (under 18) in Colorado become new daily smokers each year (2).  Nationally, 9 out of 10 tobacco users start before they are 18 years old (3).
  • 19,900 (7%) high school students in Colorado smoke (2).
  • 26.2% of high school students in Colorado use e-cigarettes/”vapes” (2).
  • 634,400 (14.6%) adults smoke in Colorado (2).

Take ONE Step to Protect Loved Ones from Tobacco Use

Knowing and understanding the dangers will help you create safe breathing environments as well as inform parents of the risks, myths, and preventive measures regarding secondhand smoke and aerosols (4).

  • Smoke outside, away from windows, doors, and children
  • Don’t allow smoking at any time or place children will be present (home, car, etc.)
  • Teach children how to stay away from secondhand smoke
  • Model a tobacco and smokefree lifestyle
  • Implement a smokefree house/property policy
  • Be honest with young people about how difficult it is to quit smoking and encourage them not to start

If you’re ready to change your tobacco use, check out these support resources.

Tobacco Smoke

Tobacco smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals, including hundreds that are toxic and about 70 that can cause cancer (5).

Smoking causes more deaths each year than the following causes combined (6):

  • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
  • Illegal drug use
  • Alcohol use
  • Motor vehicle injuries
  • Firearm-related incidents

Health Risks of Tobacco Use

Kids can get poisoned if they drink the liquid in e-cigarettes or refills.  Kids can even get sick if the liquid gets on their skin.  Because the candy flavors in many “vaping” solutions appeal to kids, a child might drink enough liquid to get seriously ill or even die (7).

Kids, adults, and pets can get nicotine poisoning (7).

Nicotine is highly addictive and consumption can harm developing brains, and can lead to nicotine addiction, mood disorders, permanent lowering of impulse control, and affect attention and learning abilities (8).

Youth’s bodies are more sensitive to nicotine and become addicted more quickly than adults.  Even social smoking once or twice a month puts youth at serious risk for nicotine addiction that will keep them smoking longer and increase their chances of getting a serious disease (9).

One out of three teens who continue to smoke regularly will die prematurely – an average of 13 years earlier than their peers (9).

Smokeless tobacco products (such as, chew and snuff) also cause nicotine addiction (9).

Nicotine is a highly addictive drug, and even experimenting with cigarettes one time increase your child’s chance of being hooked for life (9).


Cost of Tobacco Use

The cost of tobacco use is high—impacting families, employers, and our healthcare system.  In Colorado, more than 5,000 people die each year from tobacco use (2).  Tobacco use also contributes more than $1.8 billion in healthcare costs and more than $1.2 billion in lost productivity (2).


From Plant to Product to Puff

A short (3-minute) video outlining the harmful components of tobacco in every stage of development, starting with growing the plant, manufacturing the product, to using it.

Common Myths

Myth:  Use of e-cigarettes/”vapes” by young people might “protect” them from using traditional cigarettes.

Fact:  There is no evidence to support this.  Studies have shown that non-smoking youth who use e-cigarettes/”vapes” are more likely to try traditional cigarettes in the future than non-smoking youth who do not use e-cigarettes/”vapes.”

Myth:  High school students try traditional cigarettes over e-cigarettes/”vapes.”

Fact:  Among high school students and young adults who use tobacco, more use both e-cigarettes and burned tobacco products than use e-cigarettes/”vapes” alone.  Research shows adults have a big influence on youth behavior.  Setting clear expectations and being actively involved and supportive is associated with lowered risk of youth tobacco use.

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “Burden of Tobacco Use in the U.S.”  Retrieved from: 
  2. Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids “The Toll of Tobacco in Colorado.”  Retrieved from:
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “Youth and Tobacco Use.”  Retrieved from:
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “2006 Surgeon General’s Report Highlights – How to Protect Yourself and Your Loved Ones from Secondhand Smoke.” Retrieved from:
  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “Health Effects of Secondhand Smoke.”  Retrieved from: 
  6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “Health Effects of Cigarette Smoking.”  Retrieved from:
  7. Teens Health “Is It Safe to Vape Around Children?”  Retrieved from:
  8. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services “Known the Risks of E-cigarettes for Young People.”  Retrieved from:
  9. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “What You Need to Know About Tobacco to Talk to Your Teens.”  Retrieved from:

Page last updated: November 21, 2022

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