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Tobacco's Health Impact on Adolescents

It's no secret that using tobacco is harmful:

Smoking damages nearly every organ of the body. Smoking-related cancers include lung, mouth, stomach, kidney, bladder, and cervix, among others. Cigarette smoking has been linked to about 90 percent of all cases of lung cancer, and tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States.1

Smoking is also associated with emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and other lung diseases; it aggravates asthma symptoms and it increases the risk of heart disease.2

Smoking typically precedes other substance abuse, including smoking marijuana and using hard drugs.3

Adolescent smokers tend to engage in other unhealthy behaviors, such as fighting, marijuana use, binge drinking, and having multiple sexual partners.3

These are only a few of tobacco's negative health effects – some of the many others include cosmetic impacts, such as yellowed teeth4 and premature wrinkles,5 and more serious effects, such as a weakening of the immune system, which makes it harder to fight off infections and diseases. 6

Secondhand smoke is the smoke given off by a burning tobacco product and the smoke exhaled by a smoker. Exposure can affect the health of children and adults.7

The long-term health impact of e-cigarette use is less definitive because is a relatively new product and contains nicotine but not tobacco. However, e-cigarettes are in no way harmless. They have been found to expose users to a host of harmful chemical ingredients also found in tobacco cigarettes, and adverse short-term impacts include headaches, respiratory tract irritation, and changes in appetite.8,9

For more information on tobacco's impact on health, check out The Real Cost from the FDA's Center for Tobacco Products. The goal of this multi-year media campaign is to reduce the number of teens who initiate smoking and become lifelong tobacco users.



Footnotes


1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2014). Health effects of cigarette smoking. Retrieved February 12, 2016, from http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/health_effects/effects_cig_smoking/.
2 National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2012). What are the medical consequences of tobacco use. Washington, DC: National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved February 12, 2016, from http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/tobacco/what-are-medical-consequences-tobacco-use.
3 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2012). Preventing tobacco use among youth and young adults: A report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: 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. Retrieved on February 12, 2016, from http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/reports/preventing-youth-tobacco-use/full-report.pdf.
4 American Dental Association. (2013). Smoking and Tobacco. Retrieved on February 12, 2016, from http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/s/smoking-and-tobacco.
5 Urbanska, M., Nowak, G., & Florek, E. (2012). Cigarette smoking and its influence on skin aging. Przegl. Lek., 69(10), 1111-1114.
6 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2010). How tobacco smoke causes disease: The biology and behavioral basis for smoking-attributable disease: A report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: 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. Retrieved on February 12, 2016, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK53017/pdf/Bookshelf_NBK53017.pdf
7 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2014). Secondhand smoke (SHS) facts. Retrieved February 12, 2016, from http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/secondhand_smoke/general_facts/.
8 Goniewicz, M., et al. (2014) Levels of selected carcinogens and toxicants in vapour from electronic cigarettes. Tobacco Control 23(2),133–139. Retrieved February 12, 2016, from http://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/content/23/2/133.
9 Hua, M., et al. (2013). Health-related effects reported by electronic cigarette users in online forums. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 15(4), e59. Retrieved February 12, 2016, from http://www.jmir.org/2013/4/e59/.
Content created by Office of Adolescent Health
Content last reviewed on February 16, 2016