Tobacco Use

Tobacco is a plant that can be smoked in cigarettes (traditional or e-cigarettes/vapes), pipes, or cigars.  It is the same plant that is in smokeless tobacco, known as dip, chew, snuff, spit, or chewing tobacco.

Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable disability, disease, and death in the U.S., prematurely killing close to half a million adults each year from secondhand smoke exposure or smoking.


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Tobacco SmokeHealth Risks | From Plant to Product to Puff | Nicotine in Tobacco Products | Common Myths | Choose ONE Step

Tobacco Smoke

Tobacco smoke comes from the burning of tobacco products, such as traditional and e-cigarettes/vapes, cigars, and pipes.  Tobacco smoke is what is breathed in or out by the person smoking, and what comes from the end of a traditional tobacco product (such as a lit cigarette or cigar).  Tobacco smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals, including hundreds that are toxic and about 70 that can cause cancer.

Smoking causes more deaths each year than the following causes combined:

Health Risks of Tobacco Use

  • Kids can get poisoned if they drink the liquid in e-cigarettes or refills.  Kids can even get sick if the liquid gets on their skin.  Because the candy flavors in many vaping solutions appeal to kids, a child might drink enough liquid to get seriously ill or even die.
  • Kids, adults, and pets can get nicotine poisoning.
  • Youth’s bodies are more sensitive to nicotine and become addicted more quickly than adults.  Even social smoking once or twice a month puts youth at serious risk for nicotine addiction that will keep them smoking longer and increase their chances of getting a serious disease.
  • One out of three teens who continue to smoke regularly will die prematurely – an average of 13 years earlier than their peers.
  • Smokeless tobacco products (such as, chew and snuff) also cause nicotine addiction.
  • Nicotine is a highly addictive drug, and even experimenting with cigarettes one time increase your child’s chance of being hooked for life.
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From Plant to Product to Puff

A short (3-minute) video outlining the harmful components of tobacco in every stage of development, starting with growing the plant, manufacturing the product, to using it.

Nicotine in Tobacco Products

Nicotine occurs naturally in the tobacco plant, acting as a repellent to keep bugs from eating the plants’ leaves.  Nicotine is highly addictive and can harm teens’ developing brains, and can lead to nicotine addiction, mood disorders, permanent lowering of impulse control, and affect attention and learning abilities.  No tobacco product is safe for young people to use.

Common Myths

Myth:  Use of e-cigarettes/vapes by young people might “protect” then from using traditional cigarettes.

Fact:  There is no evidence to support this.  Studies have shown that non-smoking youth who use e-cigarettes/vapes are more likely to try traditional cigarettes in the future than non-smoking youth who do not use e-cigarettes/vapes.

Myth:  High school students try traditional cigarettes over e-cigarettes/vapes.

Fact:  Among high school students and young adults who use tobacco, more use both e-cigarettes and burned tobacco products than use e-cigarettes/vapes alone.  Kids are less likely to smoke if they know their parents disapprove – so talk about it.

Take ONE Step to Protect Loved Ones from Secondhand Smoke Exposure

Knowing and understanding the dangers will help you create safe breathing environments as well as inform parents of the risks, myths, and preventive measures regarding secondhand smoke and aerosols.