Smoking in America is down -- but not out. Today, 20% of U.S. adults are smokers, compared to 45% in 1965, when smoking was at its peak. But even at the current level of tobacco use, an estimated 440,000 Americans per year lose their lives to lung cancer, heart disease, emphysema, or other smoking-related illnesses. On average, smokers die 14 years before nonsmokers, and half of all smokers who don't quit are killed by their habit.
People start smoking for many reasons. Many continue to puff...
Smoking is banned in many public places. But many people are still exposed to secondhand smoke, especially children who live with parents who smoke. Even people who try to be careful about where they light up may not protect those around them.
What Is Secondhand Smoke?
It can come from a cigarette, cigar, or pipe. Tobacco smoke has more than 4,000 chemical compounds, at least 250 are known to cause disease.
Secondhand smoke makes you more likely to get lung cancer and many other types of cancer. It's also bad for your heart.
Every year in the U.S., secondhand smoke causes about 34,000 deaths from heart disease and 7,300 deaths from lung cancer, the CDC says.
Smoking during pregnancy is especially dangerous to the developing baby. It's tied to premature delivery, low birth weight, SIDS, limited mental ability, trouble with learning, and ADHD. The more cigarettes a mother-to-be smokes, the greater the danger to her baby.
How to Avoid Secondhand Smoke
It's simple: Avoid being around people who are smoking, and try to convince those around you who smoke to quit. Anyone who does smoke should do so outside, as far away from other people as possible.
Your home is probably the most important place to keep smoke-free, especially if you have children. Keeping kids (and adults) far away from smoke can help lower their chances of having respiratory infections, severe asthma, cancer, and many other serious conditions.