Tobacco use is responsible for nearly one in five deaths in the United States.”

“For each 1,000 tons of tobacco produced, about 1,000 people eventually will die. Lifelong smokers on average have a 50 percent chance of dying from tobacco-related illnesses, with half of these dying before the age of 70.”

The single greatest risk factor for oral cancer is tobacco. Oral cancer cases are seen in patients who do not use tobacco, (see the HPV connection link on the home page navigation bar) and there are also people who develop the disease with no known risk factors. The numbers as a percentage of these is are very small. Tobacco, in spite of these other causes and unknowns still is the largest contributor to the development of oral cancers. All forms of tobacco have been implicated as causative agents including cigarette, cigar and pipe tobacco, as well as chewing tobacco. It is important to differentiate between conventional loose leaf (traditional) forms of smokeless tobaccos and the newer types such as snus, as evidence from outside the US suggests that there is a significant difference in risk. But it must be remembered that these products are currently a very small part of the US smokeless tobacco sales number, and the US products that mimic the Swedish snus products are NOT the same product, and the data cannot be transferred from one to the other interchangeably. Studies need to be done on US products to see if they actually have reduced risk. In India and Sri Lanka, where chewing tobacco is used with betel nuts and reverse smoking is practiced (placing the lit end in the mouth), there is a striking incidence of oral cancer – these cases account for as many as 50 percent of all cancers. (WHO)

Tobacco can damage cells in the lining of the oral cavity and oropharynx, causing cells to grow more rapidly to repair the damage. Researchers believe that DNA-damaging chemicals in tobacco are linked to the increased risk of oral cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.


“Each year, smoking kills more people than AIDS, alcohol, drug abuse, car crashes, murders, suicides, and fires – combined!”

“Cigarette smokers die younger than nonsmokers. In fact, smoking decreases a person’s life expectancy by 10-12 years. Smokers between the ages of 35 and 70 have death rates three times higher than those who have never smoked.”

“…while the odds for those trying crack or alcohol and becoming addicts are 1 in 6 and 1 in 10 respectively, they’re 9 in 10 for cigarette smokers,” reports the chief of clinical pharmacology, National Institute on Drug Abuse.

“Smoking is the single most preventable cause of death in our society.”

“More than 47 million adults in the United States smoke cigarettes despite the fact that this single behavior will result in the death or disability of half all its regular users.”

“Cigarette smoking is responsible for more than 430,000 deaths in the United States each year, or one in every five deaths.”

Cigarette smoking causes several lung diseases that can be just as dangerous as lung cancer. Chronic bronchitis, a disease in which the airways produce excess mucus, forcing the smoker to cough frequently, is a common ailment for smokers. Cigarette smoking is also the major cause of emphysema, a disease that slowly destroys a person’s ability to breathe. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema, kills about 81,000 people each year; cigarette smoking is responsible for more than 65,000 of these deaths.

Smoking cigarettes also increases the risk of heart disease, which is America’s number one killer. Almost 180,000 Americans die each year from cardiovascular disease caused by smoking. Smoking, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and lack of exercise are all risk factors for heart disease, but smoking alone doubles the risk of heart disease. Among those who have previously had a heart attack, smokers are more likely than non-smokers to have another.

In addition to being responsible for 87 percent of lung cancers, smoking is also associated with cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, pancreas, uterine cervix, kidney and bladder. Other popular forms of smoking include bidis (tobacco wrapped in a temburni leaf) and kreteks (commonly referred to as cloves), both equally as dangerous as tobacco alone.

Cigars and pipes

“It is not unusual for some premium cigars to contain the tobacco equivalent of an entire pack of cigarettes.”

“Cigars are a major source of secondhand smoke which contains over 4,000 chemicals – 200 are poisons, 63 of which cause cancer.”

It is a common misconception that smokers, particularly those who smoke pipes or cigars without inhaling, are excluded from physical harm or danger. In fact, anytime smoke touches living cells, it harms them. Even if cigarette, pipe or cigar smokers never inhale, they are at an increased risk for lip, mouth, tongue, throat and larynx cancers. Because it is virtually impossible to avoid inhaling any trace of smoke, these smokers are also increasing their risk of getting lung and esophageal cancer.

There are, however, some differences between cigar and cigarette smoke due to the different ways cigars and cigarettes are made. Cigars go through a long aging and fermentation process. During the fermentation process, high concentrations of carcinogenic compounds are produced. These compounds are released when a cigar is smoked. Also, cigar wrappers are less porous than cigarette wrappers. The nonporous cigar wrapper makes the burning of cigar tobacco less complete than cigarette tobacco. As a result, compared with cigarette smoke, the concentrations of toxins and irritants are higher in cigar smoke. In addition, the larger size of most cigars (more tobacco), and longer smoking time, produce higher exposures to nonsmokers of many toxic compounds (including carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, ammonia, cadmium and other substances) than a cigarette.

Like cigarette smoking, the risks from cigar smoking increase with enhanced exposure. For example, compared with someone who has never smoked, smoking only one to two cigars per day doubles the risk for oral and esophageal cancers. Smoking three to four cigars daily can increase the risk of oral cancers to more than eight times the risk for a nonsmoker, while the chance of esophageal cancer is increased to four times the risk for someone who has never smoked. Both cigar and cigarette smokers have similar levels of risk for oral, throat and esophageal cancers.

Although cigar smoking occurs primarily among males between the ages of 35 and 64 who have higher educational backgrounds and incomes, recent studies suggest new trends. Most new cigar users today are teenagers and young adult males (ages 18-24) who smoke occasionally (less than daily). According to two large statewide studies conducted among California adults in 1990 and 1996, cigar use has increased nearly five times among women and appears to be increasing among adolescent females as well. Furthermore, a number of studies have reported high rates of use among not only teens, but also preteens. Cigar use among older males (age 65 and older), however, has continued to decline since 1992.

Celebrities have recently publicized cigar smoking, and multiple nightclubs and restaurants are promoting new cigar smoking sections. The introducti