Cigarette smoking and exposure to tobacco smoke are associated with premature death from chronic diseases, such as cancer, heart disease, or lung disease. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, smoking causes about 90% of lung cancer deaths in men and almost 80% of lung cancer deaths in women. The risk of dying from lung cancer is more than 23 times higher among men who smoke cigarettes, and about 13 times higher among women who smoke cigarettes compared with those who never smoked. In addition, smoking causes cancers of the bladder, oral cavity, pharynx, larynx (voice box), esophagus, cervix, kidney, lung, pancreas, and stomach, and causes acute myeloid leukemia.
According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), every year 443,000 Americans die of causes related to cigarette smoking.
Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, cigarette smokers are 2-4 times more likely to develop coronary heart disease than nonsmokers, and cigarette smoking doubles a person’s risk for stroke. In addition, about 90% of all deaths from chronic obstructive lung diseases are attributable to cigarette smoking.
Cigarette smoking has many adverse reproductive health and early infancy effects, including an increased risk for infertility, preterm delivery, stillbirth, low birth weight, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Also, exposure to cigarette smoke in childhood increases upper respiratory infections, ear infections, and causes asthma.
Despite these harmful outcomes caused by cigarette smoke, cigarettes account for more than 90 percent of expenditures on all tobacco products in our country. This means that even though research provides evidence that cigarette smoke has detrimental effects on everyone’s health, many do not take it seriously. Those of us who want our children grow up in a healthy and smoke-free environment must take matters into our own hands.
Steps to decrease cigarette smoke exposure in children:
1. Establish your household as a cigarette smoke-free zone.
2. If you smoke, do so ONLY outside and wear “a smoke coat or shirt” that you take off before coming back inside.
3. Dine with your child only in smoke-free restaurants.
4. Ask friends not to smoke around your child. Be brave and make your voice heard.
5. Talk to your school-aged and adolescent children about cigarette smoke and its health consequences. Be honest, especially if you are a smoker, and talk about it frequently.
6. Try to quit smoking. The first step is to make the decision, the second step is to set the quit date, and the third step is to find people who will support your decision and help you get through it!
7. Be strong: quitting smoking is not easy, but it is possible!