Despite the health risks, more than 46 million American still light up. Everyday Health gives you the cold, hard facts on smoking by the numbers.
The CDC links smoking to a laundry list of health conditions and premature deaths in United States each year. Most people know that lighting up can lead to heart disease — the leading cause of death in the country — as well as stroke, lung cancer, and respiratory conditions such as chronic bronchitis and emphysema. But smoking also plays a significant role in many other less-obvious conditions, from cataracts to skin cancer and tooth and gum decay.
Secondhand smoke and thirdhand smoke, or the buildup of smoke residue on everything from furniture and walls to hair and clothes, also contribute to the problem, especially in children. A ban on smoking in cars recently proposed by the British Medical Association (BMA) reinforces the severity of smoking’s health risks on non-smokers. Passengers in the car of a smoker are likely to take in 23 times more toxins than they would at a smoky bar.
Once you’ve given up cigarettes, the positive effects on your physical andemotional health begin almost immediately — and continue for years. Your heart disease risk is halved just one year after quitting. After five years, your risk of stroke has almost disappeared. After 10 years, you’re less vulnerable to ulcers and cancer of the lungs, mouth, and throat, among others types of cancer.