Dangers of Smoking

Did You Know?

Smoking and Death

  • Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States.
  • Smoking has been associated with 1 out of every 5 deaths in the U.S. each year.
  • Smoking causes more than 480,000 deaths in the U.S annually.
  • Smoking reduces life expectancy for smokers by at least 10 years.
  • Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in Anne Arundel County.

Tobacco Use and Youth

  • Nearly 9 out of 10 smokers start before the age of 18 and 98% start smoking by age 26. Tobacco companies know this; they want to hook youth so they will have customers for life.
  • Tobacco use among Anne Arundel County youth increases precipitously from sixth to twelfth grade.
  • The percentage of current smokers in high school has decreased to 9.2%. Often the higher smoking rates are found in white and Hispanic youth and less among the African American youth.

Vaping Use and Youth

  • In 2016, 17.4% of high school youth reported being current e-vape users and 39.8% used an e-vape at least once.
  • Among Anne Arundel County high school students, 96% reported using a flavoring other than tobacco flavor with an e-vapor product.

Tobacco and Vapor Products


  • Cigarette smoke is toxic and can cause damage to almost every organ in the body. It contains about 7,000 chemical agents, including at least 70 carcinogens.
  • Light cigarettes are not safer than regular cigarettes. Switching to light cigarettes does not help smokers quit and still puts them at risk for cancer, heart disease and other smoking-related health problems.
  • Download the What You Need To Know About Smoking flier to learn more about the effects of smoking on the body.

Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems

  • Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) are non-tobacco, battery-powered nicotine delivery devices. These products are also called e-cigs, vapes, vape pens, JUUL or mods. They can resemble pens, USB flash drives or traditional cigarettes. The nicotine cartridges contain other chemicals and come in a variety of flavors attractive to young people.
  • E-cigarettes produce an aerosol that can contain metals (such as tin, lead and nickel), chemicals and ultrafine particles.
  • JUUL is a pod-based system that resembles a USB flash drive. JUUL pods contain high levels of nicotine liquid. One single JUUL pod is equal to the amount of nicotine in a pack of 20 regular cigarettes.
  • While the rate of cigarette smoking has decreased, the percentage of youth who are using electronic nicotine delivery systems or e-cigarettes has increased. Across all races, e-cigarette use is far greater than traditional cigarette use.
  • E-cigarettes have one of the lowest levels of perceived risk for regular use of all drugs, including alcohol. Misleading advertising, flavors and lack of known long term effects is contributing to the level of perceived risk.
  • Download the Electronic Smoking Devices, Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS) to learn more about these products.
  • Check out JUULing: What Pediatricians and Families Need to Know to know facts and health concerns associated with the JUUL e-cigarette brand.

Other Tobacco Products

  • Chewing/smokeless tobacco is just as addictive as cigarettes. A two-can-a-week user gets as much nicotine as a pack-and-a-half-a-day smoker. Smokeless tobacco can cause cancer and there are as many as 28 different chemicals that have been identified as cancer-causing carcinogens. Chewing tobacco can also cause mouth and throat cancer.
  • Cigars are not a safe alternative to cigarettes. Cigars, little cigars and flavored cigarillos contain the same addictive, toxic and carcinogenic compounds found in cigarettes. Cigar smoke contains more tar, toxins and cancer-causing substances than cigarette smoke. Learn more about the truth behind cigars here.
  • Bidis (bee-dees) are imported filter-less cigarettes that are wrapped in nonporous leaves and sold in a variety of flavors. These products contain more addictive nicotine than filtered cigarettes and can cause throat, mouth and lung cancer.
  • “Natural” or flavored tobacco products promoted by tobacco companies are not safe. These are just as addictive and deadly as other tobacco products. The Food and Drug Administration has banned flavored cigarettes, but not other flavored tobacco products, such as smokeless tobacco and cigars.
  • Hookah is a single or multi-stemmed instrument used to smoke a type of tobacco called shisha that is very moist and is often soaked in honey, molasses, fruit or other sweet flavors. Hookah can cause many of the same health risks as smoking cigarettes and should not be considered a safer alternative.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Deeming Rule

As of August 8, 2016, e-cigarettes, all cigars, hookah, pipe tobacco, nicotine gel and dissolvables (which is a type of smokeless tobacco) are now regulated under the FDA. The ruling will help to decrease the number of young people who start to use these products and help educate consumers. In 2019, the FDA released new steps to prevent youth access to these products. To stay up-to-date on regulations, go to the FDA’s products, guidance and regulations page.

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