Patient Handout: Why Quit?

General facts about smoking in regards to special topics like smoking and women, secondhand smoke, and addiction in general.

As restaurants, work places, and other public areas are increasingly becoming smoke-free, it appears that smoking is no longer as popular and acceptable in America today. Every day, people suffer from illnesses caused by the effects of smoking. Others die from the effects of tobacco use. Perhaps the facts presented below will help make you more aware of what consequences surround you or someone you know who smokes. Tobacco users must take steps today in order to avoid becoming part of these statistics in the future.


  • The effects of smoking kill more than 400,000 Americans every year.
  • One in every 5 deaths that occur each year in the United States is a result of smoking. This makes tobacco use the No. 1 preventable cause of death in the United States.
  • Tobacco use kills more people than AIDS, alcohol, cocaine, heroin, homicide, suicide, motor vehicle crashes, and fires combined.
  • More money is spent on advertising tobacco products than any other product in the United States.
  • The average age at which Americans begin to smoke is getting younger, with females beginning at the earliest age.
  • More than 80% of all smokers born since 1935 started smoking before the age of 21.
  • Every day, almost 3,000 people under the age of 18 become regular smokers. It is estimated that between one-third and one-half of them will eventually die from smoking-related diseases.
  • Tobacco use costs the American economy over $100 billion a year in healthcare costs and lost work time.

Women and Smoking

  • Lung cancer has surpassed breast cancer as the leading cause of cancer death among women -- it is responsible for 25% of all cancer deaths in women and most cases are associated with smoking (USDHHS 2001). Smoking also increases the risk of breast cancer (Reynolds et al., 2004).
  • Female smokers have higher rates of cervical cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and stroke than nonsmoking women.
  • Female smokers have an increased risk of developing osteoporosis and have earlier menopause than nonsmoking women.
  • Pregnant women who smoke are putting their babies at risk for developing respiratory problems along with improper growth patterns.
  • Smoking during pregnancy causes spontaneous abortions and fetal damage and contributes to sudden infant death syndrome and colic.
  • Each year, 4,000 babies die from complications brought about from their mothers smoking during pregnancy.

Secondhand Smoke (Environmental Tobacco Smoke)

  • There are over 4,000 chemicals in secondhand smoke. Of those chemicals, 200 are poisons and 63 can cause cancer.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that secondhand smoke is responsible for 3,000 lung cancer deaths and 37,000 heart disease deaths among nonsmokers each year.
  • Secondhand smoke worsens asthma in children. It also can cause pneumonia, ear infections, bronchitis, coughing, and wheezing in children.
  • Secondhand smoke causes up to 300,000 lower respiratory tract infections in young children each year.


  • An average of 70% of all smokers say that they want to quit.
  • Every year, 44% of smokers try to quit.
  • It takes on average about 8 quit attempts before a smoker quits for good.

(Sources: ACS 2003; CDC 2002; Reynolds et al. 2004; USDHHS 2001)

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