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Tobacco comes in the forms of cigarettes, cigars or smokeless tobacco. Many teenagers also use water pipes – or hookahs – to smoke tobacco. This is just as dangerous as smoking cigarettes. Nicotine is the stimulating chemical in tobacco that makes it addictive. However, there are also more than 4,000 other chemicals in tobacco that are also poisonous. Some people think smokeless tobacco is healthier – but it is not. According to the American Lung Association, three to four times the amount of nicotine is consumed from smokeless tobacco than from a cigarette. About 500,000 Americans die each year from tobacco use, which is more than all other drugs combined.

What are the short-term effects of tobacco?

  • Pneumonia
  • Loss of smell and taste
  • Loss of stamina and endurance
  • Smell of smoke

What are the long-term effects of tobacco?

  • Cancer: lung, mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, stomach, pancreas, cervix, kidney, bladder
  • Emphysema
  • Respiratory illness
  • Heart problems, including a high risk for heart disease
  • Aging skin
  • Teeth discoloration
  • Strokes
  • Leukemia
  • Cataracts
  • Addiction
  • Withdrawal symptoms – including irritability, sleep disturbances, craving, increased appetite and attention deficits

What are the effects of smoking on nonsmokers?

  • Secondhand smoke, which causes about 43,000 deaths a year among nonsmokers. It also causes respiratory illness.
  • Children: risk for sudden infant death syndrome, respiratory infections, ear infections, severe asthma
  • Dropped cigarettes account for more than 1,000 residential fire fatalities a year
  • If you are pregnant and smoking – your child is at a higher risk for stillbirth, sudden infant death syndrome, premature birth, respiratory infections and infant mortality

But there is some good news…

According to a 2009 survey by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, smoking is at an all-time low among teenagers. If you or someone you know wants to quit smoking, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW for help in creating a plan to quit.