Single Most Preventable Cause of Disease, Disability, and Death in the U.S.

By Frank Tucker | Feb 14, 2014

Each day, more than 3,600 people under 18 smoke their first cigarette, and more than 900 begin smoking every day. Cigarette smoking is the number one cause of preventable disease and death worldwide. According to the 31st Tobacco-related Surgeon General’s report, every day more than 1,200 people in this country die due to smoking. Smoking cost the United States over $193 billion in 2004, including $97 billion in lost productivity and $96 billion in direct health care expenditures, or an average of $4,260 per adult smoker.  Tobacco is the single most preventable cause of disease, disability, and death in the U.S.

What makes smoking and tobacco use dangerous?

Cigarettes and tobacco contain more than 4000 chemical compounds and 400 toxic substances. The burning of tobacco in cigarettes at high temperature produces several toxic substances. As the cigarette burns, dangerous substances are produced including tar (a carcinogenic substance), nicotine (an addictive substance which is responsible for increasing the cholesterol levels in the body) and carbon monoxide (substance that negatively affects the oxygen levels in the body).  Above all, the addictive nature of smoking makes it dangerous.

Risks of tobacco use or smoking

The use of tobacco has adverse effects on each vital organ of the body. Cardiovascular disease is the biggest health risk to a smoker and is one of the biggest causes of death due to smoking. Smokers are at risk of having cardiovascular diseases such as coronary thrombosis, cerebral thrombosis, High blood pressure, kidney failure etc. Smokers are at high risk of getting cancer, especially lung cancer, mouth cancer, throat cancer, bladder cancer, kidney cancer, pancreatic cancer and cervical cancer. 90% of lung cancer is due to smoking. Most of the heavy smokers have some degree of emphysema (breathlessness caused by damage of air sacs) while most non-smokers don’t have the same.

Tobacco use and smoking in children and kids

While smoking among adults is declining, tobacco use and smoking remains steady among teens and kids. Each day, approximately 3,000 young people become regular smokers and nearly one third of them will eventually die as a result of their smoking. Adolescence is a period of risk-taking, experimentation and testing boundaries, and the experimental use of tobacco and alcohol can be part of this developmental process. Genetic predisposition, tobacco use by mother during pregnancy, difficult temperament in early life, conduct disorders during early school years and exposure to tobacco and cigarettes in school are some of the factors leading to tobacco addiction in children and teens.

Ways to prevent and treat tobacco use and smoking in kids and teens


Parent intervention- Parents play an important role in preventing tobacco addiction in their children. Tobacco use in teens is greater if parents do not talk with their children and convey the clear

message that they disapprove of tobacco use. Look for signs of tobacco use such as smell or smoke, yellow stains on teeth and sores or white patches in the mouth. Talk to your children about tobacco and its harmful effects on health. Equally important is to establish consequences for teen if rules are broken and rewards when the rules are followed.  Don’t hesitate to seek professional help if you suspect your children are using tobacco.

Clinical intervention- If you notice any signs of smoking in your kids, it is best to talk to their health care provider as early as possible. Clinical interventions, one-to-one or group counseling and behavior therapy are some of the ways to treat tobacco abuse in kids. Health professionals may also prescribe non-nicotine medications and nicotine replacement products to overcome tobacco addiction.

This blog is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. This blog is for information purpose only.  As always, please consult your healthcare provider if you have any health concerns and certainly before starting a treatment program.


Prev Post
Business Process Re-engineering – A Closer Look 1 of 3
Next Post
Public Health Outreach – Setting Up a Fair