What We Do

Tobacco Dependence: The Scope of the Problem

Tobacco products are addictive and deadly. They cause more than 430,000 deaths each year in the United States. Tobacco causes more premature deaths each year than AIDS, homicide, road traffic crashes, suicide, alcohol, and illegal drugs all added together. People who use tobacco don't set out to become addicted or to die prematurely, but those are the most frequent consequences.

Most who smoke regret having started and want to stop. However, quitting can be hard to do, especially in a society where tobacco products continue to be highly available, advertised, glamorized, and socially accepted. When cigarettes are permitted in the home and at work, smoking flourishes. When cigarette smoke is prohibited indoors, smokers smoke less and have more success in quitting.

Overall, cigarettes kill half of those who continue to smoke. Addiction to tobacco is far more deadly than any other drug addiction. Nicotine, delivered to the brain in huge surges by tobacco products, is highly addictive. Nicotine itself does not cause cancer or respiratory diseases. It is the other poisons in tobacco and tobacco smoke such as the carcinogens, carbon monoxide, and hydrogen cyanide, that typically cause premature deaths and disease.Quitting smoking dramatically lowers the risk of illness and premature death, and often results in immediate improvements in health. Even though every cigarette does some harm, it is never too late to quit.