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Health Concerns

The Scoop

By giving you the facts about what smoking means to your body, your environment and who's actually benefiting from the sale of tobacco products we hope you'll make an informed decision about sticking that cigarette in your mouth and lighting up.

On this page:

What's the deal with smoking?

  • Tobacco smoke is made up mainly of tar (which builds up in your lungs), nicotine and carbon monoxide. It also contains other poisonous substances like cyanide, formaldehyde and ammonia.
  • Smokeless tobacco (chewing tobacco, snuff) is also very dangerous to health. Smokeless tobacco users are more likely to develop cancer of the mouth, lip, tongue, gums, and throat. You are also more likely to develop dental problems such as cavities, tooth loss and gum disease.
  • The nicotine in tobacco is one of the most addictive substances known. About eight out of every ten people who try smoking get hooked.
  • Tobacco use causes many different kinds of cancer -- and not just lung cancer. Think mouth, throat, pancreas, bladder, kidney and cervix. Then there's respiratory and heart disease.
  • Young women who smoke and are taking birth control pills increase their chances for serious heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure.
  • Second-hand smoke can cause lung cancer among non-smokers.
  • A Canadian dies every 12 minutes of a tobacco related disease.
  • Tobacco smoke kills over 37,000 people in Canada each year. That's more than the total of all murders, alcohol-related deaths, car accidents and suicides.
Number of Deaths

It's never going to happen to me

Yeah, right. When we're young and strong, it's so easy to think that cancer and heart disease only happen to other people. Much older people. You're immune, right? Wrong.

Here's a sobering way to look at the situation:

  • Among young people, the short-term health consequences of smoking include respiratory effects -- cough and increased frequency and severity of illnesses like asthma, chest colds and bronchitis -- as well as addiction to nicotine.
  • In adults, cigarette smoking causes heart disease and stroke. Early signs of these diseases can be found in adolescents who smoke.
  • The younger people start smoking, the more likely they are to become strongly addicted to nicotine.
  • Most young people who smoke regularly continue to smoke throughout adulthood.
  • Smoking reduces the rate of lung growth and it can hamper the level of maximum lung function.
  • According to the US Center for Disease Control, high school seniors who are regular smokers and began smoking by grade nine are more than twice as likely than their non-smoking peers to report poorer overall health, cough with phlegm or blood, shortness of breath when not exercising, and wheezing or gasping.
  • Smoking hurts young people's physical fitness in terms of both performance and endurance -- even among young people trained in competitive running.
  • The resting heart rates of young adult smokers are two to three beats per minute faster than non-smokers.
  • Smoking at an early age increases the risk of lung cancer.

Does smoking help you lose weight?

Young women, especially those of normal weight, are also more likely to report smoking to control their weight. As a young woman, you are twice as likely to think that you are overweight when you're not, and twice as likely to smoke to try to lose or control weight, compared to young men. To date there are no studies that prove that starting to smoke leads to Next link will take you to another Web site  weight loss (PDF Version) Smoking does not lead to a healthy weight. Just think about it - many persons who smoke are also inactive and have an unhealthy weight. The best way to maintain a healthy weight is through a balanced diet and regular physical activity.

Did You Know...

Good news or bad, we've got facts and figures to help you make up your mind about smoking.

The good...

  • The latest Canadian statistics show that fewer teenagers aged 15-19 are smoking. In 2001, only 22.5% of teens aged 15-19 smoked; that's down from 28% in 1999!
  • Teen smokers lead the way when it comes to quitting. In fact 25% of teen smokers were actively trying to quit in 2000.
  • Thinking of quitting? Increase the odds. Check out Quit 4 Life. Why wait?
Long term Trends in the Prevalence of Current Smokers

The bad...

  • Teen girls start smoking earlier than boys and more girls 15 to 19 years old smoke (24% vs 21% in 2001)
  • In 2001, an estimated 800,000 kids under 12 were regularly exposed to second-hand smoke in the home from cigarettes, cigars or pipes.
  • One tree is lost for every 300 cigarettes manufactured.

And the ugly.

  • Approximately half of all smokers die from a smoking-related illness -- cancer, heart disease and other ailments.
  • Canadian teenagers smoke more than 1.6 billion cigarettes each year -- resulting in retail sales worth more than $330 million. Just think about what else could be done with that money.
  • More than 1,000 non-smokers will die this year in Canada due to tobacco use -- over 300 lung cancer deaths and at least 700 deaths from coronary heart disease will be caused by second-hand smoke