Cigarette Facts You Probably Didn’t Know

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Smoking Facts That Everyone Should Know

Smoking facts are important reminders of how dangerous smoking effects might be. They counter any myths, which still exist that surround tobacco and cigarettes. They are also essential prevention tools. Facts about smoking can stop people, especially young people, from starting. The truth about cigarettes and smoking can also encourage smokers to quit or find an alternative in vape smoke.

Table of Contents

The Basics
Little-Known Facts about Smoking
Smoking Myths
The Knowledge to Defeat Smoking

Smoking facts

  • 480,000 — the number of people who die each year from smoking-related illnesses
  • 1,000 — the number of people who succumb to secondhand smoke each year
  • 1,300 — the number of people who die each day due to smoking

This is the human toll that cigarettes exact in the United States. The worldwide numbers are even more staggering.

The World Health Organization reports:

  • 7 million people around the world succumb to direct tobacco use
  • 890,000 people die from exposure to secondhand smoke every year

These numbers represent the consequences of smoking to people. These deaths are all directly related to tobacco since a single cigarette contains:

  • 600 ingredients
  • 7,000 chemicals
  • 69 of these chemicals are known carcinogens

Get the facts

The Facts about Smoking That People Do Not Know

When someone smokes a cigarette:

The addictiveness of cigarettes is not an accident. Nicotine occurs naturally in tobacco leaves. There are many dangerous chemicals already in tobacco that pose a threat to human health like nickel and cadmium.

Burning even untreated or “natural,” roll-your-own-tobacco is not safer or less dangerous than smoking a manufactured cigarette. Despite the highly addictive nature of cigarettes, tobacco companies engineer them to be even more addictive.

Tobacco companies:

  • Add ammonia to tobacco to make nicotine absorption even faster
  • Include sugars and other flavoring agents to change the flavor and harshness of tobacco, only these additives become carcinogenic when they are burned
  • Mix chemicals called bronchodilators into tobacco to make absorption of dangerous chemicals into the lungs easier

Not only do Big Tobacco companies make their product as addictive as possible, but they also spend billions on advertising.

In 2016 alone, Big Tobacco spent:

  • $9.5 billion on marketing cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products
  • $5.8 billion, or 66% of the $9.5 billion was spent on price discounts to retailers to make cigarettes cheaper and more accessible

In the United States, tobacco advertising disproportionately affects minority and low-income populations. Studies have found that:

Myths About Smoking

Myths and untruths about smoking persist, despite all that we know about cigarettes.

Myth #1: Filtered cigarettes are safer.

Truth: Filtered cigarettes do not make smoking safer. Tobacco companies began adding filters to cigarettes in the 1950s. It was a measure to make cigarettes “safer” by reducing tar and nicotine levels. Only because smokers’ believed that these filtered cigarettes were safer, due to tobacco company marketing, they smoked more of them, which only increased the danger to their health and offset any protection offered by the filter.

Myth #2: Smoking is only dangerous for old people who smoke.

Truth: Smoking is more dangerous for young people than for older populations. Starting a smoking habit early in life increases the risk of developing coronary heart disease, cancer, and lung disease. Conversely, quitting smoking before age 40 reduces the chances of dying from smoking-related diseases by 90%.

Myth #3: Only old people die from smoking-related illnesses.

Truth: A study out of the Netherlands found that 23% of heavy smokers never reach the age of 65. Light smokers (people who smoke on occasion) have an 11% chance of dying before 65, while only 7% of non-smokers do not make it to that age.

Myth #4: Smoking only occasionally does not do any harm.

Truth: There is no safe amount of smoking. Every cigarette smoked causes damage to the heart, the nervous system and other vital organs of the body. Studies have shown that even smoking a few cigarettes a week can lead to heart disease.

Myth #5: Secondhand smoke is not dangerous.

Truth: Secondhand smoke is real, and it is hazardous. Thousands die from secondhand smoke-related illnesses every year. There is no allowable level of exposure to smoke or secondhand smoke.

Knowing Everything about Smoking

The knowledge that we have today about cigarettes and smoking has come at a high cost. The toll on people, human health and even the environment has been high. The smoking facts cited here represent only a small portion of all the harm cigarettes cause.

All this knowledge has inspired change and action though. In the United States, smoking rates are at their lowest levels. Tobacco advertising is severely restricted, and less young people are starting to smoke. A lot of work is left to do in the rest of the world. The knowledge is there, now, it is only a matter of willingness to change and use that knowledge.

Published: August 28, 2015 Updated: April 5, 2019

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