Through the use of tobacco, nicotine is one of the most heavily used addictive drugs and the leading preventable cause of disease, disability, and death in the U.S. Cigarette smoking accounts for 90% of lung cancer cases in the U.S., and about 38,000 deaths per year can be attributed to secondhand smoke. Cigarettes and chew tobacco are illegal substances in most U.S. states for those under 18; a handful of states have raised the age to 19.
Effects: Nicotine is highly addictive. The tar in cigarettes increases a smoker’s risk of lung cancer, emphysema, and bronchial disorders. The carbon monoxide in smoke increases the chance of cardiovascular diseases. Pregnant smokers have a higher risk of miscarriage or low birthweight babies. Secondhand smoke causes lung cancer in adults and greatly increases the risk of respiratory illnesses in children.
Statistics and Trends:
In 2008, nearly 71 million Americans age 12 and older had used a tobacco product at least once in the month prior to being surveyed. Source: National Survey on Drug Use and Health (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration Web Site). The NIDA-funded 2008 Monitoring the Future Study showed that 6.8% of 8th graders, 12.3% of 10th graders, and 20.4% of 12th graders had used cigarettes and 3.5% of 8th graders, 5.0% of 10th graders, and 6.5% of 12th graders had used smokeless tobacco at least once in the month prior to being surveyed. And while rates of smoking have continued to decline to historically low levels the overall rate of smoking by Americans remains unacceptably high. Source: Monitoring the Future (University of Michigan Web Site)
Source: The National Institute of Drug Abuse, 2010