Smoking Affects Everyone

Helen Roemhild & Pam Werb
WWPI Research

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Tobacco use remains the leading preventable cause of death in the United States, causing more than 400,000 deaths each year and resulting in an annual cost of more than $50 billion in direct medical costs. Each year, smoking kills more people than AIDS, alcohol, drug abuse, car crashes, murders, suicides, and fires – combined!

Nationally, smoking results in more than 5 million years of potential life lost each year.

Approximately 80% of adult smokers started smoking before the age of 18. Every day, nearly 3,000 young people under the age of 18 become regular smokers.

More than 5 million children living today will die prematurely because of a decision they will make as adolescents – the decision to smoke cigarettes.

Second Hand Smoke Issues

We spend more time in our homes than anywhere else. So the thought of cancer-causing chemicals circulating throughout our houses and apartments can be quite unsettling. Yet, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, that is exactly what happens when someone lights a cigarette in your home. Those most affected by secondhand smoke are children. Because their bodies are still developing, exposure to the poisons in secondhand smoke puts children in danger of severe respiratory diseases and can hinder the growth of their lungs. On top of that, the effects can last a lifetime. Ventilation systems in homes cannot filter and circulate air well enough to eliminate secondhand smoke. Blowing smoke away from children, going into another room to smoke, or opening a window may help reduce children’s exposure but will not protect them from the dangers of secondhand smoke.

How to Make (and Keep) Your Home Smoke-Free

The greatest benefit of a smoke-free home is that you will remove all the health risks associated with secondhand tobacco smoke. Plus when your home is smoke-free, it will smell much better. It will be easier to clean, and your food will taste better. Your insurance rates may be lower–check with your insurance company. Even your pets will be happier.

If someone in your household smokes, be sympathetic and understanding–but encourage him or her to quit. Let that person know that cigarette smoke affects everyone, not just the smoker. Let them know you care and you want to help.

Don’t Forget Schools and Day Care. Make sure your child’s school and day care programs are smoke-free. And insist that babysitters not smoke around your children.

Health Effects of Smoking Among Young People

Among young people, the short-term health consequences of smoking include respiratory and nonrespiratory effects, addiction to nicotine, and the associated risk of other drug use. Long-term health consequences of youth smoking are reinforced by the fact that most young people who smoke regularly continue to smoke throughout adulthood.

  • Cigarette smokers have a lower level of lung function than those persons who have never smoked.
  • Smoking reduces the rate of lung growth.
  • In adults, cigarette smoking causes heart disease and stroke. Studies have shown that early signs of these diseases can be found in adolescents who smoke.
  • Smoking hurts young people’s physical fitness in terms of both performance and endurance—even among young people trained in competitive running.
  • On average, someone who smokes a pack or more of cigarettes each day lives 7 years less than someone who never smoked.
  • The resting heart rates of young adult smokers are two to three beats per minute faster than nonsmokers.
  • Smoking at an early age increases the risk of lung cancer. For most smoking-related cancers, the risk rises as the individual continues to smoke.
  • Teenage smokers suffer from shortness of breath almost three times as often as teens who don’t smoke, and produce phlegm more than twice as often as teens who don’t smoke.
  • Teenage smokers are more likely to have seen a doctor or other health professionals for an emotional or psychological complaint.
  • Teens who smoke are three times more likely than nonsmokers to use alcohol, eight times more likely to use marijuana, and 22 times more likely to use cocaine. Smoking is associated with a host of other risky behaviors, such as fighting and engaging in unprotected sex.


Surgeon General, Society of Actuaries Transactions, Office on Smoking and Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Smoke-Free Bus Stops

St. Paul Pioneer Press, May 17, 2000

Note to Metro Transit riders in St. Paul: Enclosed downtown area bus shelters are now NO SMOKING. The offense is a misdemeanor that carrier a maximum find of up to $1,000 and a sentence of up to 90 days in jail or both.


Target Market

TM started on April 2, 2000, when 400 teens from around Minnesota gathered to discuss the tobacco industry and how they target teens. Since then, they have been all over the state, building a movement of young people to take on Big Tobacco. Their TM Cruiser truck with a teen lounge travels to events like concerts, fairs and beaches. They’re just getting started though. TM is ironically funded by the tobacco industry. The state of Minnesota, Blue Cross and Blue Shield. sued the tobacco industry and set aside a portion of the settlement for youth tobacco prevention. The tobacco industry has been covering up information about youth marketing for decades. Factual information came out during this lawsuit and is now being used to inform teens about the truth and empower them to stand up for themselves.


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