Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of disease, disability and death in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cigarette smoking results in more than 480,000 premature deaths in our country every year — about 1 in every 5 U.S. deaths — and an additional 16 million people suffer with a serious illness caused by smoking. In fact, for every one person who dies from smoking, about 30 more suffer from at least one serious tobacco-related illness.
Being exposed to secondhand smoke also causes serious diseases and death. Each year, an estimated 88 million nonsmoking Americans are regularly exposed to secondhand smoke and almost 41,000 nonsmokers die from diseases caused by secondhand smoke exposure.
Cigarettes and other forms of tobacco — including cigars, pipe tobacco, snuff and chewing tobacco — contain the addictive drug nicotine. Nicotine is readily absorbed into the bloodstream when a tobacco product is chewed, inhaled or smoked. A typical smoker will take 10 puffs on a cigarette over the period of about 5 minutes that the cigarette is lit. Thus, a person who smokes about 1 pack (25 cigarettes) daily gets 250 “hits” of nicotine per day.