20 Fast Facts About Cigarette Smoking

A decision-making guide for teens

Most people who smoke first light up a cigarette when they're teenagers. In fact, 80% of smokers began the habit before they turned 18. Here are a few quick facts about cigarette smoking, nicotine and tobacco that you may not have heard before. Even if you have, they're facts that are worth keeping in mind when your friends and relatives light up a cigarette.

  1. Nearly 70% of people who smoke say they wish they could quit.
  2. Teens who smoke cough and wheeze three times more than teens who don't smoke.
  3. Smoking causes cancer, heart disease, lung disease and strokes.
  4. Smokers as young as 18 years old have shown evidence of developing heart disease.
  5. More than 70% of young people who smoke said they wish they hadn't started doing it.
  6. Smoking a pack of cigarettes each day costs about $1,500 per year -- enough money to buy a new computer or Xbox.
  7. Studies show that 43% of people who smoke three or fewer cigarettes a day become addicted to nicotine.
  8. More than 434,000 Americans die each year from smoking-related diseases.
  9. One-third of all new smokers will eventually die from a smoking-related disease.
  10. Nicotine -- one of the main ingredients in cigarettes -- is a poison.
  11. Nicotine is as addictive as heroin and cocaine.
  12. All tobacco products -- that includes cigarettes, cigars and chewing tobacco -- have nicotine in them.
  13. Smoking makes you feel weaker and more tired because it prevents oxygen from reaching your heart.
  14. Smoking decreases your sense of taste and smell, making you enjoy things like flowers and ice cream a little bit less.
  15. Smoking hurts the people around you: More than 53,000 people die each year from secondhand smoke.
  16. Cigarettes have tons of harmful chemicals in them, including ammonia (found in toilet cleaner), carbon monoxide (found in car exhaust) and arsenic (found in rat poison).
  17. Quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do for your health.
  18. Just days after quitting smoking, a person's sense of taste and smell returns to normal.
  19. Ten years after quiting smoking, a person's risk of lung cancer and heart disease returns to that of a non-smoker.
  20. Most teens (about 70%) don't smoke. Plus, if you make it through your teen years without becoming a smoker, chances are you'll never become a smoker.

Adapted from "50 Things You Should Know About Tobacco" by Journeyworks Publishing.

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