Despite declines in use over the past decade, tobacco use is still the number one cause of disease and death in the United States. In Washington State, approximately 8,300 people die from smoking-related illness each year, and smoking contributes to $2.8 billion in health care costs. Second hand and Third Hand Smoke exposure can also lead to disease and death in non-smokers. You can read more about the health and economic costs of tobacco use here.

Tobacco use causes many preventable diseases and affects the health of the user, as well as the health of those around them. When tobacco is burned, more than 7,000 chemicals are released and inhaled by smokers and bystanders. Tobacco use has been linked to many health conditions and diseases, including:

  • Lung Cancer and Disease - the majority of all lung cancer cases are attributed to smoking. Smoking can also cause other lung diseases, such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
  • Other Cancers - Smoking and other forms of tobacco use are a major cause of cancers of the esophagus, larynx, throat and mouth. 
  • Heart Disease - Smoking can cause stroke and coronary heart disease. It also damages blood vessels, making them thicken and grow narrower. Smoking can also contribute to blood clots, high blood pressure and reduced blood flow to other organs.
  • Respiratory Issues - Smoking can increase the frequency and/or intensity of asthma symptoms, trigger asthma attacks or make attacks worse. People who smoke or who are exposed to secondhand smoke may experience more frequent or severe respiratory infections, as well.
  • Teeth and Gum Disease - Tobacco use is associated with an increased risk of gingivitis and periodontitis.
  • Premature Aging - The chemicals in tobacco smoke can change the structure of your skin, causing premature wrinkles and aging. Yellowing of the teeth and fingernails may also occur.



It is never to late to quit smoking or other tobacco products. In fact, the body can begin to heal as soon as 20 minutes after smoking it's last cigarette. Quitting tobacco is not easy, but has immediate and long term benefits. This resource has some great information on the Benefits of Quitting Smoking.

It can take several attempts to successfully quit using tobacco, and not every method works best for all individuals. 

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