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Saturday, May 1, 2021

CMO Message - The Truth About Tobacco

Every year, half a million people in the U.S. die as a result of smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke. That is 1 in 5 deaths that could have been prevented. There are more than 7,000 chemicals in tobacco smoke and 70 of them are known to cause cancer. Hundreds of other chemicals are toxic and can harm your blood vessels, which in turn damages nearly every organ of your body including your heart, liver, kidneys, and brain. Smokeless tobacco, such as chew and dip, is just as addictive and dangerous as smoking cigarettes.

Despite these known dangers of tobacco use, 1 out of 7 adults are still smoking cigarettes and 1,600 youths try their first cigarette each day. Highest smoking rates are amongst men, people aged 25-44 years, and adults with lower education, higher poverty, and mental health issues.

Smoking is not just dangerous for you but also puts those close to you in your household and community at risk. Exposure to secondhand smoke, even for a short time, can cause heart disease, lung cancer, and stroke even in non-smokers. The health risks are even more severe for young children and babies are more likely to die from sudden infant death syndrome if exposed to tobacco smoke. Secondhand smoke can even stay in a room for hours and go between apartments even if air purifiers and ventilation are used to prevent exposure.

Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the U.S. and there is no level of tobacco use that’s considered safe. If you smoke cigarettes or use any form of tobacco, the best decision you can make for your health is to quit. Talk to your healthcare provider today about what you can do to successfully quit and what additional health screenings you need. Since tobacco increases risk of cancer and other chronic conditions such as heart disease, you might need additional blood work or cancer screenings. Speak with your doctor to better understand your risks and what you can do to stay healthy.


  • Rosemary Ku, MD/MBA/MPA