Dangerous and Devastating Risks of Smoking

More and more research is showing that smoking even a couple of cigarettes a day: increased risk of genetic mutations not only to the smoker but also to the smoker’s children and grandchildren (see references at end of blog). Smoking also increases one’s risk for diabetes, high blood pressure, blindness (from glaucoma, optic nerve damage or any kind, optic neuropathy, artery and vein occlusions, risk of using Viagra [I have seen 5 patients go blind in 1 eye from a single dose of Viagra, 3 were smokers; all 5 did have “disks at risks” they did not know about but likely smoking was a factor.] Smoking increases the risk of testicular and breast cancer and decreases total sperm count (that reference is coming). Smoking increase damage to skin tissue and likely increase skin aging and wrinkles. Smoking decrease the immune system’s ability to fight infections. Smoking stinks for a reason: it is full of carcinogens the least horrible being nicotine.
Thus, please do everything possible to stop smoking now. I have seen so many cases of blindness in smokers and its devastating effects that I tell all my patients that smoke to Stop Smoking Now!
Sandra Lora Cremers, MD, FACS 
Visionary Ophthalmology 
One Central Plaza on Security Lane 
11300 Rockville Pike, Suite 1202, 
Rockville, MD 20852 
Phone: 301-896-0890 Fax: (301) 896-0968 
Below is a comprehensive review on smoking (and cocaine at the end…to make the point that smoking is in fact worse on multiple levels), as we love our priests and numeraries and do not want them to be addicted to a modifiable risk factor for cancer, blindness, respiratory diseases, etc.
A. References:
1. The Tobacco Atlas, Third Edition, published by the American Cancer Society and the World Lung Foundation:
Tobacco use kills an estimated 6 million people worldwide each year and drains $500 billion annually from the global economy in lost productivity, misused resources, and premature deaths.
What’s more, illnesses and deaths from tobacco use are totally preventable through such “well-established public policies” as tobacco taxes, advertising bans, smoke-free public places, and health warnings on packages, the report said.
By 2015, an estimated 2.1 million cancer deaths annually will be caused by tobacco products. And by 2030, most of these deaths — 83 percent — will occur in poor and middle-income countries, the atlas reported.
In developing countries, smokers spend disproportionate sums of their income on tobacco products, money that could otherwise be spent on food, health care, and other necessities. And because 25 percent of smokers die and many more become ill during their most productive years, that loss of income wreaks havoc on families and communities, the report said.

2. From CDC 2009: Tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of disease, disability, and
death in the United States. Each year, an estimated
443,000 people
die prematurely from smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke, and another 8.6 million live
with a serious illness caused by smoking.

From AHA 2009 (American Heart Association): Cocaine kills about 15,000-20,000 people per year (references below).
B. More References:


Tobacco-Related Mortality


  • Overall mortality among both male and female smokers in the United States is about three times higher than that among similar people who never smoked..1
  • The major causes of excess mortality among smokers are diseases that are related to smoking, including cancer and respiratory and vascular disease.1,2,3,4
  • Smokeless tobacco is a known cause of human cancer.5 In addition, the nicotine in smokeless tobacco may increase the risk for sudden death from a condition where the heart does not beat properly (ventricular arrhythmias); as a result, the heart pumps little or no blood to the body’s organs.5

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States.1,3

Cigarettes and Death

Cigarette smoking causes about one of every five deaths in the United States each year.1,6Cigarette smoking is estimated to cause the following:1
  • More than 480,000 deaths annually (including deaths from secondhand smoke)
  • 278,544 deaths annually among men (including deaths from secondhand smoke)
  • 201,773 deaths annually among women (including deaths from secondhand smoke)

Cigarette use causes premature death:
  • Life expectancy for smokers is at least 10 years shorter than for nonsmokers.1,2
  • Quitting smoking before the age of 40 reduces the risk of dying from smoking-related disease by about 90%.2

Secondhand Smoke and Death

Exposure to secondhand smoke causes nearly 42,000 deaths each year among adults in the United States:1
  • Secondhand smoke causes 7,333 annual deaths from lung cancer.1
  • Secondhand smoke causes 33,951 annual deaths from heart disease.1

Increased Risk for Death Among Men

  • Men who smoke increase their risk of dying from bronchitis and emphysema by 17 times; from cancer of the trachea, lung, and bronchus by more than 23 times.1
  • Smoking increases the risk of dying from coronary heart disease among middle-aged men by almost four times.1

Increased Risk for Death Among Women

  • Women who smoke increase their risk of dying from bronchitis and emphysema by 12 times; from cancer of the trachea, lung, and bronchus by more than 12 times.1
  • Between 1960 and 1990, deaths from lung cancer among women increased by more than 500%.7 In 1987, lung cancer surpassed breast cancer to become the leading cause of cancer death among U.S. women. In 2000, 67,600 women died from lung cancer.8 During 2010–2014, almost 282,000 women (56,359 women each year) will die from lung cancer.1
  • Smoking increases the risk of dying from coronary heart disease among middle-aged women by almost five times.1

Death from Specific Diseases

Tobacco use causes disease and death. Each year, smoking causes thousands of deaths from numerous diseases. The following table lists the estimated number of smokers aged 35 years and older who die each year from smoking-related diseases.1
Annual Cigarette Smoking-Related Mortality in the United States, 2005–2009
Disease Male Female Total
aOther cancers include cancers of the lip, pharynx and oral cavity, esophagus, stomach, pancreas, larynx, cervix uteri (women), kidney and renal pelvis, bladder, liver, colon, and rectum; also acute myeloid leukemia
bOther heart diseases includes rheumatic heart disease, pulmonary heart disease, and other forms of heart disease.
cOther vascular diseases include atherosclerosis, aortic aneurysm, and other arterial diseases.
dCOPD is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and includes emphysema, bronchitis, and chronic airways obstruction.
Malignant Neoplasms (Cancer)
Lung cancer 74,300 53,400 127,700
Other cancersa 26,000 10,000 36,000
Subtotal: Cancer 100,300 63,400 163,700
Cardiovascular Diseases and Metabolic Diseases
Coronary heart disease 61,800 37,500 99,300
Other heart diseaseb 13,400 12,100 25,500
Cerebrovascular disease 8,200 7,100 15,300
Other vascular diseasec 6,000 5,500 11,500
Diabetes mellitus 6,200 2,800 9,000
Subtotal: Cardiovascular and Metabolic 95,600 65,000 160,000
Respiratory Diseases
Pneumonia, influenza, tuberculosis 7,800 4,700 12,500
COPDd 50,400 50,200 100,600
Subtotal: Respiratory 58,200 54,900 113,100
Total: Cancer, Cardiovascular, Metabolic Respiratory 254,100 183,300 437,400
Perinatal Conditions
Prenatal conditions 346 267 613
Sudden infant death syndrome 236 164 400
Total: Perinatal Conditions 582 431 1,013
Residential Fires 336 284 620
Secondhand Smoke
Lung cancer 4,374 2,959 7,333
Coronary heart disease 19,152 14,799 33,951
Total: Secondhandsmoke 23,526 17,758 41,284
TOTAL Attributable Deaths 278,544 201,773 480,317


  1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Smoking—50 Years of Progress. A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2014 [accessed 2014 Feb 6].
  2. Jha P, Ramasundarahettige C, Landsman V, Rostrom B, Thun M, Anderson RN, McAfee T,
    Peto R
    21st Century Hazards of Smoking and Benefits of Cessation in the United States Adobe PDF fileExternal Web Site Icon[PDF–782 KB]. New England Journal of Medicine, 2013;368(4):341–50[accessed 2014 Feb 6].
  3. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Smoking: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2004[accessed 2014 Feb 6].
  4. National Cancer Institute. Cigars: Health Effects and Trends Adobe PDF fileExternal Web Site Icon [PDF–2.93 MB]Smokingand Tobacco Control Monograph No. 9. Bethesda (MD): U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute, 1998.[accessed 2014 Feb 6].
  5. World Health Organization. Smokeless Tobacco and Some Tobacco-Specific N-Nitrosamines Adobe PDF fileExternal Web Site Icon [PDF–3.18 MB]. International Agency for Research on Cancer Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans Vol. 89. Lyon, (France): World Health Organization, International Agency for Research on Cancer, 2007[accessed 2014 Feb 6].
  6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. QuickStats: Number of Deaths from 10 Leading Causes—National Vital Statistics System, United States, 2010. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 2013: 62(08);155[accessed 2014 Feb 6].
  7. Novotny TE, Giovino GA. Tobacco Use. In: Brownson RC, Remington PL, Davis JR, editors. Chronic Disease Epidemiology and Control. Washington: American Public Health Association, 1998:117–48[cited 2014 Feb 6].
  8. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Women and Smoking: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Coordinating Center for Health Promotion, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2001[accessed 2014 Feb 6].

For Further Information

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion
Office on Smoking and Health
E-mail: tobaccoinfo@cdc.gov
Phone: 1-800-CDC-INFO


CDC Features

50th Anniversary Report on Smoking and Health

2014 Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health

Fifty years after the first report, the 2014 Surgeon General’s Report on Smokingand Health reveals new details about the dangers of smoking as well as strategies to curtail the tobacco use epidemic.

Did you think that you already knew everything there was to know about how tobacco smoking affects health? Think again. A new Surgeon General’s Report (SGR) on smoking and health—The Health Consequences of Smoking: 50 Years of Progress—offers startling new details about the dangers of smoking as well as strategies to curtail the tobacco use epidemic that still sickens and kills many Americans. The 2014 report comes out 50 years after the first SGR on smoking was released—a time when about 4 in 10 Americans smoked.
In the early 1960s, tobacco use was the norm. People smoked in restaurants, airplanes, office buildings—even in hospitals. And tobacco marketing was everywhere. The Marlboro Man appeared in magazines and newspapers, children “smoked” candy cigarettes, and tobacco companies sponsored sports events and concerts. Doctors joined in, claiming that some cigarette brands were “safe” and less irritating. Even children’s cartoon characters, such as the Flintstones, peddled cigarettes on TV commercials.
Photo: U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Luther Terry Then on January 11, 1964, U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Luther Terry released the first report on smoking and health—a landmark federal document report linkingsmoking to lung cancer and heart disease in men. This scientifically rigorous report laid the foundation for tobacco prevention and control efforts in the United States.

50 Years of Research and Progress in Tobacco Prevention and Control

Since 1964, 31 more SGR reports have documented the harmful effects of tobacco use, such as the dangers of secondhand smoke (1986 and 2006), the impact of smoking on minority populations (1998 and 2001), and how to prevent tobacco use by youth and young adults (1994 and 2012). We now know that smoking causes 13 types of cancer and many other illnesses. Smoking is linked to diseases of nearly every organ in the body.

Successes and Challenges in Tobacco Prevention and Control

The good news is that:
  • Fewer than 20% of Americans now smoke, compared with 42% in 1964. This success is due to comprehensive tobacco control efforts over the last 50 years.
  • Tobacco advertising has been banned from TV and radio in the United States.
  • Twenty-six states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws prohibiting smoking in all indoor areas of worksites and public places, including bars and restaurants.
The bad news is that smoking remains the leading preventable cause of disease and death in the United States, killing about 480,000 Americans a year and costing nearly $280 billion a year in health care costs and lost productivity.

Highlights of the 2014 Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health

The 50th anniversary SGR expands our knowledge of the dangers of smoking even further. The report updates the human and financial tolls caused by cigarette smoking, with disturbing findings:
  • 20 million people have died since 1964 from smoking-related illnesses. Most deaths have been among adults with a history of smoking; however, 2.5 million nonsmokers died from diseases caused by exposure to secondhand smoke.
  • 5.6 million children alive today will die prematurely from smoking if currentsmoking rates persist. That’s 1 in 13 children in this country.
  • The list of illnesses caused by smoking has grown and now includes diabetes, colorectal cancer, and liver cancer. Smoking is also now known to be a cause of rheumatoid arthritis and increase the risk for tuberculosis (TB) and death from TB. Smoking raises the risk for impaired fertility, ectopic pregnancy, and cleft lip and cleft palate (birth defects) in babies of women who smokeduring early pregnancy. Smoking is linked to erectile dysfunction (impotence) and age-related macular degeneration, which is a condition affecting eyesight.Smoking also interferes with cancer treatment. And finally, the report indicates that secondhand smoke exposure causes strokes in nonsmokers.
  • Smokers today have a greater risk of developing lung cancer than they did in 1964even though theysmoke fewer cigarettes. Changes in the design and composition of cigarettes may contribute to this increase in risk. At least 70 of the chemicals and chemical compounds in cigarette smoke are known to cause cancer.
  • For the first time, women are as likely as men to die from many of the diseases caused bysmoking. These include lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and heart disease.
  • Cigarette smoking makes people less healthy, harms immune function, and reduces quality of life.
To read more about the findings from the 2014 SGR, see the consumer booklet: Let’s Make the Next Generation Tobacco-free[795 KB]. You can also download the complete report[27 MB] and the executive summary[2 MB] from the Surgeon General’s web site.
5.6 million children alive today will die early from smokingunless we take steps to stop the tobacco epidemic. See how many children (ages 0-17) are at risk in your state

The Future of Tobacco Control

The 2014 report makes clear that smoking is deadly for everyone. As Acting Surgeon General Boris Lushniak stated, “Despite 50 years of steady progress in reducing smoking rates, this nation continues to pay a heavy price in both lives and resources because of tobacco use. Without immediate and dramatic action to end the tobacco-use epidemic, the disease and death caused by smoking will continue at unacceptably high rates well into this century.”
During the past 50 years, progress in tobacco control has validated specific strategies that work well to reduce tobacco use. These include:
  • Higher prices on tobacco products
  • Continued adoption of comprehensive smokefree policies
  • Hard-hitting mass-media campaigns
  • Funding comprehensive statewide tobacco control programs at CDC recommended levels
  • Affordable and accessible cessation help for all smokers who want to quit
A top priority discussed in the new report calls for an end to the use of cigarettes, which is the major cause of tobacco-related disease and death.

If proven strategies are implemented at
the local, state, and federal levels, public health leaders are confident we can reach a point where tobacco use is rare rather than an epidemic. This achievable goal has the potential to save millions of Americans from preventable disease and death.


Tobacco Use

Targeting the Nation’s Leading Killer

At A Glance 2011

Tobacco Use: Targeting the nation's leading killer

On this Page

The Burden of Tobacco Use

Tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of disease,
disability, and death in the United States. Each year, an estimated 443,000 people die prematurely from smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke, and another 8.6 million live with a serious illness caused by smoking. Despite these risks, approximately 46.6
million U.S. adults smoke cigarettes. Smokeless tobacco, cigars, and pipes also have deadly consequences, including lung, larynx, esophageal, and oral cancers.
The harmful effects of smoking do not end with the smoker.
An estimated 88 million nonsmoking Americans, including 54% of children aged 3–11 years, are exposed to secondhand smoke. Even brief exposure can be dangerous because nonsmokers inhale many of the same poisons in cigarette smoke as smokers.
Secondhand smoke exposure causes serious disease and death,
including heart disease and lung cancer in nonsmoking adults and sudden infant death syndrome, acute respiratory infections, ear problems, and more frequent and severe asthma attacks in children. Each year, primarily because of exposure to secondhand smoke,
an estimated 3,000 nonsmoking Americans die of lung cancer, more than 46,000 die of heart disease, and about 150,000–300,000 children younger than 18 months have lower respiratory tract infections.
Coupled with this enormous health toll is the significant
economic burden of tobacco use—more than $96 billion a year in medical costs and another $97 billion a year from lost productivity.

The Tobacco Use Epidemic Can Be Stopped

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) report,
Ending the Tobacco Problem: A Blueprint for the Nation,
presents a plan to “reduce smoking so substantially that it is no longer a public health problem for our nation.” Foremost among the IOM recommendations is that each state should fund a comprehensive tobacco control program at the level recommended by CDC
Best Practices for Comprehensive Tobacco Control Programs–2007.
This publication is a guide to help states plan and establish effective tobacco control programs to prevent and reduce tobacco use.
Evidence-based, statewide tobacco control programs that
are comprehensive, sustained, and accountable have been shown to reduce smoking rates, tobacco-related deaths, and diseases caused by smoking. A comprehensive program is a coordinated effort to establish smoke-free policies, reduce the social acceptability
of tobacco use, promote cessation, help tobacco users quit, and prevent initiation of tobacco use. This approach combines educational, clinical, regulatory, economic, and social strategies.
Research has documented the effectiveness of laws and policies
to protect the public from secondhand smoke exposure, promote cessation, and prevent initiation by young people. For example, states can
  • Increase the unit price of tobacco products.
  • Implement smoke-free policies, regulations, and laws.
  • Provide insurance coverage of tobacco-use treatment.
  • Limit minors’ access to tobacco products.
Chart showing about 443,000 U.S. deaths attributable each year to cigarette smoking. Text description below.

description of this graph
is also available.]

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