Children and Tobacco: The Facts
Facts on Tobacco-Related Illnesses
Each year more than 400,000 Americans die from a tobacco-related illness, the number
one preventable cause of death in the United States.1 More lives are lost to tobacco than those caused by
fires, alcohol, suicides, car accidents, AIDS, illegal drugs, and homicides, combined.
Most of these deaths occur in adulthood, but the damage begins at the onset of smoking
which in about 90 percent of the cases, begins at or before the age of 18.
". . . [F]rom a public-health standpoint, keeping kids away from cigarettes is the
single most effective way to fight the nation's leading preventable cause of
-- "Hooked on Tobacco: The Teen Epidemic," Consumer Reports, March
- Close to 1,000 of the 3,000 youths who begin smoking every day will
prematurely die of a tobacco-related disease.2
- An infant's risk of dying from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
increases 5 times if he or she is exposed to secondhand smoke in the room.3 Secondhand smoke also increases the risk of lung
cancer and asthma.
- Smoking in childhood or adolescence increases the risk of developing
cardiac disease -- the number one cause of death in the United States.
- Young adult smokers are 1.43 times more likely to have a stroke than their
- Smoking is linked to not only lung cancer, but also other respiratory
problems like coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath.
- Children and adolescents who use tobacco have smaller lungs than their
peers, and therefore tend to be less physically fit than their peers.
- Adolescents' use of smokeless tobacco increases their risk of oral cancer
and nicotine addiction.
1. Unless otherwise noted, all data is taken from the 1994 U.S.
Surgeon General's Report.
2. Food and Drug Administration statement, July 13,
3. Journal of the American Medical Association,
March 8, 1995.
4. "Cigarette Smoking Increases Risk of Stroke In Young Adults,"
AMA Brief Reports, June 20, 1990.
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