Tobacco use, both smokeless and smoking, is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States. More close
to a half million people die each year from tobacco related illness. In addition, the CDC estimates that more than 5.6
million years of potential life are lost each year due to tobacco use.
Approximately 80% of smokers started before turning 18 and nearly 4,000 people under the age of 18
try their first cigarette every day. The negative health effects of tobacco begin with the first dip or cigarette. Nicotine
in tobacco is highly addictive and makes it difficult for people to stop using tobacco even after as few as two weeks of using tobacco.
Tobacco is directly related to heart disease. The nicotine restricts blood vessels, which makes the heart work harder resulting
in heart disease. A majority of all cancers are a direct result of tobacco use, including cancers of the lung, trachea, bronchus,
larynx, esophagus, pancreas, kidney, bladder and cervix. Many oral complications also arise from tobacco use including periodontal
disease. One in five deaths is attributable to tobacco. Children are also more likely to have asthma, allergies, ear infections
and eczema if they are exposed to tobacco smoke. Avoiding tobacco will reduce chances of having many of these diseases, and benefits
of smoking can be gained almost immediately after quitting.
Benefits of Avoiding Tobacco
The effects tobacco has on health can be reduced the minute a smoker quits, however, many effects are permanent which means
it is important to never start! Quitting smoking, however, will lead to immediate improvements in health. Within 24 hours of
quitting, smokers will see that foods taste and smell better, energy levels will improve, your heart rate will slow, and you’ll
generally feel better. On top of that, you’ll save a lot of money!
Helping you quit
Quitting is very difficult. Here are some tips to help you quit.
Go Cold Turkey - Avoid “curbing back” tobacco use by smoking a limited number of cigarettes or only taking
so many dips a day. The addictive properties of nicotine will make you increase your tobacco use in no time.
One Minute at a Time – Because nicotine is so addictive, consider every minute, hour, day, week and month
without using tobacco a success. It may take more than a month to have reduced cravings. Nicotine supplements (e.g. patch or gum
have helped many quit.
Change your Routine – Have something healthy to do as a replacement for tobacco. Take up exercise, chew gum,
use an old Rubic’s Cube, read a book, drink a glass of water, travel a different way to work, and take lunch in different places
Write it Out – Write out all of the reasons you want to quit, when you use tobacco or what causes you to use
tobacco, and make goals for what you will do at those times as an alternative to tobacco.
You Can Do It – Know that ½ of adult smokers successfully quit.
Hard Work – Quitting is not easy, in fact, it’s very difficult. Hang in there!
Hide the Evidence – Get rid of everything tobacco related…cans of dip, cigarettes, ash trays, lighters, spit
cups, and don’t let people smoke in your home. Avoid places where you know people smoke.
Set a Date – Choose a quit day and stick with it.
Get Help – Talk with your doctor about ways to help you quit using tobacco.
Tobacco and kids
Because nicotine is so addictive, children who start using tobacco will have a difficult time quitting and are more likely to
use tobacco as an adult. Tobacco use in children increases significantly from 4th to 6th grade. In fact, the younger people start
smoking cigarettes, the more likely they are to become strongly addicted to nicotine. The CDC has highlighted the following facts:
- Teens who smoke are three times more likely than nonsmokers to use alcohol, eight times more likely to use marijuana, and
22 times more likely to use cocaine. Smoking is associated with a host of other risky behaviors, such as fighting and engaging
in unprotected sex.
- Smoking is associated with poor overall health and a variety of short-term adverse health effects in young people and may also
be a marker for underlying mental health problems, such as depression, among adolescents.
High school seniors who are regular smokers and began smoking by grade nine are:
- 2.4 times more likely than their nonsmoking peers to report poorer overall health
- 2.4 to 2.7 times more likely to report cough with phlegm or blood, shortness of breath when not exercising, and
wheezing or gasping
- 3.0 times more likely to have seen a doctor or other health professional for an emotional or psychological complaint.
(CDC. Preventing tobacco use among young people)
Influences on children smoking
Peers – most common first tobacco experience comes from peer interaction. Talk with child about dangers of tobacco, how it
will affect them. You can’t be with your child all of the time, so make sure they are informed. Set consequences if they use tobacco.
Films – Teens who observe film and music idols using tobacco are more likely to use tobacco themselves. Many
of these influences are difficult to control, they’re going to see it. Talk with your kids to identify people they respect who don’t
Parental influence – Quite possibly the single most predictable variable in child smoking is what the parents do.
Parents who use tobacco have kids that use tobacco. If not for your health, quit to save your child. As you quit, make sure to share
what you are going through with your child. If you don’t use tobacco, great! Make sure your children know how you feel towards tobacco.
What to do if your kid smokes or chews tobacco - Kids Health
Tobacco Information and Prevention Source - CDC
Facts on Youth Smoking, Health, and Performance - CDC
Oral Effects of Tobacco Abuse
Girl Power: Tobacco Effects
Be Smoke Free