Information about Tobacco Use, Harm, and Disparities
Source: Tobacco Free Kids
Tobacco use is the number one cause of preventable death in the United States and around the world.
Tobacco killed one hundred million people worldwide in the 20th century — and if current trends continue, it will kill one billion people in the 21st century.
In the United States, tobacco use kills about 443,000 people per year — more than AIDS, alcohol, car accidents, illegal drugs, murders, suicides and fires combined. About 50,000 of these deaths result from exposure to secondhand smoke.
The tobacco industry is one of the most profitable businesses in the country, making billions of dollars every year. But the costs of smoking are far higher than the income from cigarette sales.
Tobacco use also exacts a huge financial toll. It costs the U.S. $96 billion in health care expenditures and another $97 billion in lost productivity each year.
(source: Adult Smoking Rates in Washington: A Report on Current Disparities, 2007)
8,000 people die from smoking-related causes in Washington each year. In addition, tobacco-related disease costs an estimated $1.53 billion in total health care costs in the state annually.
- EDUCATION: Among both men and women, smoking rates were highest among people with a high school degree or less. Smoking rates decreased as education increased, and were the lowest among people with a college degree or more.
- RACE and ETHNICITY: Smoking was higher among American Indian/Alaska Natives, Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders, and black/African Americans, compared to Hispanic/Latino, white, and Asian American people.
- EDUCATION and GEOGRAPHY: Among people with a high school degree or less education, smoking rates were significantly higher in urban than rural locations, but rates remained the same among people with some college education or a college degree or more.
- SEXUAL ORIENTATION: In Washington, smoking rates were higher among lesbian, gay, or bisexual people as compared to heterosexual people in 2003-2005 (Figure 24, top).
In comparison to the entire statewide population, smoking rates were significantly higher among gay/bisexual men for all age groups younger than 45. In comparison to the entire statewide population, smoking rates were significantly higher among lesbian/bisexual women for all age groups except those 60 and older.
Source: CDC Second Hand Smoke Facts
Secondhand or tobacco smoke causes cancer, it contains over 4,000 chemical compounds. More than 60 of these are known or suspected to cause cancer.
Secondhand smoke is a mixture of gases and fine particles that includes—
- Smoke from a burning cigarette, cigar, or pipe tip,
- Smoke that has been exhaled or breathed out by the person or people smoking, and
- More than 7,000 chemicals, including hundreds that are toxic and about 70 that can cause cancer
Secondhand smoke can cause harm in many ways. In the United States alone, each year it is responsible for:
- An estimated 46,000 deaths from heart disease in people who are currently non-smokers
- About 3,400 lung cancer deaths as a result of breathing secondhand smoke
- Other breathing problems in non-smokers, including coughing, mucus, chest discomfort, and reduced lung function
- 50,000 to 300,000 lung infections (such as pneumonia and bronchitis) in children younger than 18 months of age, which result in 7,500 to 15,000 hospitalizations annually
- Increases in the number and severity of asthma attacks in about 200,000 to 1 million children who have asthma
Most exposure to secondhand smoke occurs in homes and workplaces. Secondhand smoke exposure also continues to occur in public places such as restaurants, bars, and casinos and in private vehicles.
While there have been declines in secondhand smoke have occurred in all racial and ethnic groups, levels have consistently been found to be higher in non-Hispanic black Americans than in non-Hispanic white Americans and Mexican Americans. In 2007–2008:
- 55.9% of non-Hispanic blacks were exposed to secondhand smoke.
- 40.1% of non-Hispanic whites were exposed to secondhand smoke.
- 28.5% of Mexican Americans were exposed to secondhand smoke.
Secondhand smoke exposure tends to be high for persons with low incomes: 60.5% of persons living below the poverty level in the United States were exposed to secondhand smoke in 2007–2008.
Eliminating smoking in indoor spaces is the only way to fully protect nonsmokers from secondhand smoke exposure. Separating smokers from nonsmokers, cleaning the air, and ventilating buildings does not eliminate secondhand smoke exposure. Source, American Cancer Society
Tobacco is a powerful cause of health inequalities as certain communities are more vulnerable to and burdened by the risks and effects of tobacco (Tobacco Research Network on Disparities)
- Children: Most smokers begin as children, and 1,000 kids become regular smokers every day. One in three of them will die an early death as a result. If current trends continue, more than six million U.S. kids alive today will die prematurely of tobacco-caused diseases. (Tobacco Free Kids)
According to the 2000 National Youth Tobacco Survey, Asian American youth had a seven-fold increase in smoking from 7th to 12th grades, the highest increase of any ethnic group. (APPEAL)
Children exposed to second-hand smoke are at increased risk of lower birthweight, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), learning problems, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), ear infections, coughs and colds, asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia, and tooth decay. (American Academy of Pediatrics)
Smoking prevalence is highest among adults with a GED certificate (49.1%), declines with increasing education, and is lowest among adults with a graduate degree (5.6%). ("Current Cigarette Smoking Among Adults Aged ≥18 Years--United States, 2009." US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
- Ethnicity and Race: American Indians/Alaska Natives (35%) have the have the highest rate of smoking in the US, followed by African Americans and whites (22%), Hispanics (16%) and Asian Americans (13%). ("Current Cigarette Smoking Among Adults Aged ≥18 Years --- United States, 2009," US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention )
According to the 2000 National Youth Tobacco Survey,Asian American youth had a seven-fold increase in smoking from 7th to 12th grades, the highest increase of any ethnic group. (APPEAL)
African Americans are disproportionately diagnosed with and die from tobacco-related illness. (American Cancer Society)
- Gender: Being born male is the greatest predictor for tobacco use in most of the world, with overall prevalence about four times higher among men than women globally (48% versus 12%). Globally, young girls are smoking almost as much as young boys. (World Health Organization)
Female teenagers and young adults have the highest rates of smoking during pregnancy. In 2005, 16.5% of female teens aged 15-19 and 18.6 percent of women aged 20-24 smoked during pregnancy. (National Vital Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
- LGBT: The smoking rate within the GLBT community is roughly double that of the general population. (Smoking Out a Deadly Threat: Tobacco Use in the LGBT Community, American Lung Association)
Tobacco Industry Marketing
- For decades, the industry has marketed its deadly and addictive products to children, deceived the public about the harmful effects of these products, and aggressively opposed measures to reduce tobacco use. In the U.S. alone, tobacco marketing still totals $12.8 billion a year — more than $35 million each day — and the industry spends millions more on lobbying and political contributions aimed at defeating tobacco control measures. (Tobacco Free Kids)