Health Effects

How smoking, secondhand smoke and the use of other tobacco products, including cigars, e-cigarettes, marijuana and smokeless tobacco impacts your health.

A tobacco product is any product containing, made of or derived from tobacco or nicotine and can include commercial cigarettes, e-cigarettes, smokeless tobacco or other nicotine-containing product such as pouches, gummies or even toothpicks. Smoking and the use of other tobacco products, including cigars and smokeless tobacco, causes or worsens numerous diseases and conditions. Combustible products also expose nearby people to toxic secondhand smoke, while e-cigarettes expose nearby people to secondhand e-cigarette emissions, which are also unsafe.

Find out more on the health effects of smoking, secondhand smoke, other tobacco products and marijuana.

  • Smoking is the number one cause of preventable disease and death worldwide. Smoking-related illness in the U.S. costs more than $600 billion a year, including over $241 billion in direct medical care for adults and $184 billion in lost productivity.1
  • Secondhand smoke is a serious health hazard for people of all ages, causing more than 41,000 deaths each year.
  • Marijuana smoke contains many of the same toxins, irritants and carcinogens as tobacco smoke.
  • E-cigarettes are a new tobacco product, and the potential health consequences and safety of these products are unknown.
  • Smokeless tobacco products are addictive, known to cause of cancer and are not a safe alternative to cigarettes.
  • Cigars have many of the same health risks as cigarettes, including causing certain cancers.
  • Hookah smoke contains many of the same toxic components found in cigarette smoke.
  • Nicotine is the addictive drug in tobacco products. Cigarettes, cigars, smokeless tobacco and nearly all e-cigarettes contain nicotine.
  • Menthol is a flavoring that tobacco companies have relied on to make cigarettes more appealing and addicting.

The American Lung Association's Freedom From Smoking® program helps adult smokers quit cigarettes for good through proven skills and techniques. Learn more about our advocacy efforts to reduce tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke.

Page last updated: August 25, 2022

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