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Cigarette Smoke

Environmental Tobacco Smoke, The Health Consequences Of Tobacco Use, Cardiovascular Disease, Cancer, Lung DiseaseComponents of cigarette smoke

The World Health Organization (WHO) has named tobacco one of the greatest public health threats of the twenty-first century. As of 2001, more than 1.2 billion people worldwide smoke, and 3.5 million people are expected to die from causes directly related to tobacco use. This death rate is expected to rise to 10 million by the year 2030. Seventy percent of these deaths will occur in developing countries where the proportion of smokers is growing, particularly among women. Calling tobacco "a global threat," WHO says these figures do not include the enormous physical, emotional, and economic costs associated with disease and disability caused by tobacco use.

In the United States alone, 25.2 million men, 23.2 million women, and 4.1 million teens between 12 and 17 years of age smoke. Every day, more than three million youths under the age of 18 begin smoking. The gruesome statistics show that more than five million children alive today will die prematurely because, as adolescents, they decided to use tobacco. Nationally, one in five of all deaths is related to tobacco use. It kills more than 430,000 people every year—more than AIDS, alcohol, drug abuse, automobile accidents, murders, suicides, and fires combined. Five million years of potential life is lost every year due to premature death caused by tobacco use. Medical costs total more than $50 billion annually, and indirect cost another $50 billion.

Of the 4,000 or more different chemicals present in cigarette smoke, 60 are known to cause cancer and others to cause cellular genetic mutations that can lead to cancer. Cigarette smoke contains nicotine (a highly addictive chemical), tars, nitrosamines, and polycyclic hydrocarbons, all of which are carcinogenic. It also contains carbon monoxide which, when inhaled, interferes with transportation and utilization of oxygen throughout the body.

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