Dedicated to communicating the detrimental effects of smoking and tobacco use and encourage cessation

Summary Overview

Tobacco use harms nearly every organ of the body, causing many preventable diseases and affecting the health of tobacco users, as well as the health of those around them. Quitting tobacco has immediate and long-term benefits.


Tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of death and disease in the United States. Cigarette smoking kills more than 480,000 Americans each year, with more than 41,000 of these deaths from exposure to secondhand smoke. (1) In addition, smoking-related illness in the United States costs more than $300 billion a year, including nearly $170 billion in direct medical care for adults and $156 billion in lost productivity. (1, 2)

In Washington State, tobacco kills about 7,600 people every year. For every person who dies from smoking, 20 more suffer from at least one serious illness related to tobacco. Tobacco use contributes to the start and worsening of chronic diseases. Find out more about the impacts of tobacco by reading the Surgeon General's guide on the devastating effects of smoking (PDF).

The only way to avoid the harmful effects of tobacco is to avoid using tobacco all together and avoid areas where you could be exposed to secondhand smoke. If you or someone you know currently uses tobacco, the best option is to quit in order to reduce the risk of developing a tobacco-related disease.

1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Smoking—50 Years of Progress: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2014 [accessed 2016 Dec 13].

2. Xu X, Bishop EE, Kennedy SM, Simpson SA, Pechacek TF. Annual Healthcare Spending Attributable to Cigarette Smoking: An Update. American Journal of Preventive Medicine 2015;48(3):326–33 [accessed 2016 Dec 13].

Cigarettes and Smoking

There are approximately 600 ingredients in cigarettes. When burned, they create more than 7,000 chemicals. At least 69 of these chemicals are known to cause cancer, and many are poisonous.

Many of these chemicals also are found in other consumer products, but these products have warning labels. While the public is warned about the danger of the poisons in these products, there is no such warning for the toxins in cigarette smoke.

Here are a few of the chemicals in cigarette smoke and other places they are found:

  • Acetone – found in nail polish remover
  • Acetic Acid – an ingredient in hair dye
  • Ammonia – a common household cleaner
  • Arsenic – used in rat poison
  • Benzene – found in rubber cement
  • Butane – used in lighter fluid
  • Cadmium – active component in battery acid
  • Carbon Monoxide – released in car exhaust fumes
  • Formaldehyde – embalming fluid
  • Hexamine – found in barbecue lighter fluid
  • Lead – used in batteries
  • Naphthalene – an ingredient in mothballs
  • Methanol – a main component in rocket fuel * Nicotine – used as insecticide
  • Nicotine – used as insecticide
  • Tar – material for paving roads
  • Toluene - used to manufacture paint (ALA)

Using any amount of tobacco can quickly lead to nicotine dependence. Signs that you may be addicted include:

  • You can't stop smoking. You've made one or more serious, but unsuccessful, attempts to stop.
  • You experience withdrawal symptoms when you try to stop. Your attempts at stopping have caused physical and mood-related symptoms, such as strong cravings, anxiety, irritability, restlessness, difficulty concentrating, depressed mood, frustration, anger, increased hunger, insomnia, constipation or diarrhea.
  • You keep smoking despite health problems. Even though you've developed health problems with your lungs or your heart, you haven't been able to stop.
  • You give up social or recreational activities to smoke. You may stop going to smoke-free restaurants or stop socializing with certain family members or friends because you can't smoke in these locations or situations. (Mayo)

While most people relate tobacco use with cancer there are many other negative health effects and diseases that are associated with tobacco use:

  • Lung cancer and other lung diseases. Smoking causes nearly 9 out of 10 lung cancer cases. In addition, smoking causes other lung diseases, such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Smoking also makes asthma worse.
  • Other cancers. Smoking is a major cause of cancers of the esophagus, larynx, throat (pharynx) and mouth and is related to cancers of the bladder, pancreas, kidney and cervix, and some leukemia. Overall, smoking causes 30 percent of all cancer deaths.
  • Heart and circulatory system problems. Smoking increases your risk of dying of heart and blood vessel (cardiovascular) disease, including heart attack and stroke. Even smoking just one to four cigarettes daily increases your risk of heart disease. If you have heart or blood vessel disease, such as heart failure, smoking worsens your condition. However, stopping smoking reduces your risk of having a heart attack by 50 percent in the first year.
  • Diabetes. Smoking increases insulin resistance, which can set the stage for the development of type 2 diabetes. If you have diabetes, smoking can speed the progress of complications, such as kidney disease and eye problems.
  • Eye problems. Smoking can increase your risk of serious eye problems such as cataracts and loss of eyesight from macular degeneration.
  • Infertility and impotence. Smoking increases the risk of reduced fertility in women and the risk of impotence in men.
  • Pregnancy and newborn complications. Mothers who smoke while pregnant face a higher risk of miscarriage, preterm delivery, lower birth weight and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) in their newborns.
  • Cold, flu and other illnesses. Smokers are more prone to respiratory infections, such as colds, flu and bronchitis.
  • Weakened senses. Smoking deadens your senses of taste and smell, so food isn't as appetizing.
  • Teeth and gum disease. Smoking is associated with an increased risk of developing inflammation of the gum (gingivitis) and a serious gum infection that can destroy the support system for teeth (periodontitis).
  • Physical appearance. The chemicals in tobacco smoke can change the structure of your skin, causing premature aging and wrinkles. Smoking also yellows your teeth, fingers and fingernails.
  • Risks to your family. Nonsmoking spouses and partners of smokers have a
    higher risk of lung cancer and heart disease compared with people who don't live with a smoker. If you smoke, your children will be more prone to SIDS, worsening asthma, ear infections and colds. (Mayo)

For more about tobacco products and how they are harmful watch the three videos below from the Food and Drug Administration.

Quit Tobacco

There are a lot of ways to quit tobacco but it is hard to wade through all the options and find the ones that work.

There are seven Food and Drug Association (FDA) medicines that are safe and effective for helping people quit:

There are five types of nicotine replacement therapy

  • Skin Patch* - a transdermal patch that gradually releases nicotine into the body through the skin.
  • Gum* - a type of chewing gum that delivers nicotine to the body.
  • Lozenge* - a tablet (usually flavored) that contains a dose of nicotine which dissolves slowly in the mouth to release the nicotine.
  • Inhaler - a nicotine replacement device used for smoking cessation, consisting of a mouthpiece and a cartridge containing a nicotine-imbibed plug.
  • Nasal spray - a nasal spray that contains a small dose of nicotine, which enters the blood by being absorbed through the lining of the nose.

*Available without a prescription

There are two non-nicotine medications

  • Bupropion (Wellbutrin)- a pill you take to reduce your craving for tobacco.
  • Varenicline (Chantix) - a prescription medication used to treat nicotine addiction.

For more information about these cessation methods please visit the FDA website.

Other Cessation Resources

There are many resources to help you quit tobacco. Not everyone has success using the same methods. Click here to learn about resources that will work best for you.

Spokane or Washington Specific Data


Vaping devices, which include e-cigarettes, vape pens, mechanical modified nicotine delivery systems or MODS, and electronic hookahs, typically deliver nicotine, flavorings, and other additives to the user through an inhaled aerosol. The use of vaping devices is on the rise, especially among youth and young adults. Commonly perceived as a healthier or safer than traditional cigarettes, there are unique health risks associated with vaping devices and research is currently being performed to look at the potential long-term effects of vaping device use.


Marijuana can be an addictive substance, particularly for youth. Marijuana use during childhood or adolescence is dangerous because the human brain does not fully develop until around age 26, and drugs like marijuana can have negative effects for young, developing brains.

Although marijuana use by adults (21+) has been made legal in Washington State that does not mean it is without health risks. The safety of marijuana has not been established. Just like tobacco and alcohol, it has been associated with health and social problems.


The tobacco industry’s most recent response to the documented harms of cigarette smoking was to launch new heat-not-burn tobacco cigarettes. Heat-not-burn cigarettes are tobacco sticks soaked in propylene glycol, which are inserted in a holder and the tobacco is electronically heated to 350°C. The cigarettes are marketed as giving the feel of smoking a real cigarette with a reduced risk. While early studies show heat-not-burn may be a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes they still pose a health risk to the user.