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Posted at 12:01 AM ET, 12/ 9/2010

New tobacco warnings from surgeon general

By Rob Stein

Image via Wikipedia

Everyone knows that smoking is  terrible for your health and the health of those around you who are exposed to tobacco fumes. But as part of the Obama administration's campaign against smoking, the Surgeon General released a new report Thursday detailing how tobacco causes cancer, heart attacks and so many other ailments and why it is so addictive.

The 704-page report, the 30th Surgeon General's report to address tobacco, "validates earlier findings, expands and strengthens the science base, and describes in great detail the multiple ways that tobacco smoke damages every organ in the body, resulting in disease and death," according to its executive summary.

Tobacco smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals and compounds, including hundreds that are toxic and at least 70 that cause cancer, according to the report. That means there is no "risk-free level of exposure" to tobacco smoke. Even a whiff of tobacco smoke can adversely affect the body, the report concludes.

"The chemicals in tobacco smoke reach your lungs quickly every time you inhale causing damage immediately," Surgeon General Regina Benjamin said in a statement. "Inhaling even the smallest amount of tobacco smoke can also damage your DNA, which can lead to cancer."

The lining of the lungs becomes inflamed as soon as it is exposed to cigarette smoke and over time the smoke can cause chronic lung diseases such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis, according to the report. Even brief exposure to secondhand smoke can cause heart disease and can trigger heart attacks. Chemicals in tobacco smoke quickly damage blood vessels and make blood more likely to clot, increasing the risk for heart attacks, strokes and aneurysms.

Cigarette smoke contains a host of carcinogens, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, N-nitrosamines, aromatic amines, benzene and aldehydes, according to the report.

Smoking also makes it harder for diabetics to control their blood sugar, harder for women to get pregnant, increases the risk for miscarriages, premature babies and babies being born underweight and with damaged lungs and brains.

There is no evidence that adding filters to cigarettes has made them safer or that "low-tar" and "light" cigarettes are any less dangerous, according to the report. In fact, modern cigarettes are designed to be addictive, delivering nicotine more quickly and efficiently than ever before, helping explain why so many people get hooked so quickly and have such a hard time quitting, the report concludes.

But "this report makes it clear--quitting at any time gives your body a chance to heal the damage caused by smoking," Benjamin said. "It's never too late to quit, but the sooner you do it, the better."

Matthew L. Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said in a statement, "This latest report is a stark reminder of how lethal and addictive smoking truly is, with every cigarette doing you damage.  It sends an unmistakable message to elected officials at all levels that reducing smoking is one of the most effective actions we can take to improve the nation's health and prevent some of the most deadly and costly diseases in our society."

The advocacy group called on states to "step up their efforts to reduce tobacco use by increasing tobacco taxes, enacting smoke-free workplace laws and fully funding tobacco prevention and cessation programs at levels recommended by the" Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Food and Drug Administration recently unveiled new, much larger and more graphic warnings that the agency plans to require on cigarette packs in the hopes of preventing more people from starting to smoke and convincing more smokers to quit.

For more information about the new report, click here.

By Rob Stein  | December 9, 2010; 12:01 AM ET
Categories:  Cancer, Cardiovascular Health, Chronic Conditions, Diabetes, Smoking, infertility  
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This is why I got an electronic cigarette. They are much safer and it was the only way I could quit.

Posted by: shelia2 | December 9, 2010 2:55 AM | Report abuse

very interesting article.

Posted by: hanagah | December 9, 2010 6:12 AM | Report abuse

I heard some where once that smoking is like playing russian roulette, any one cig could be the death of you.  For some great health tips for our busy lives check out this fantastic blog:

Posted by: JSC22 | December 9, 2010 10:32 AM | Report abuse

Shhh, everybody ... please don't tell John Boehner about this, so he can continue to enjoy his God given constitutional right to chain-smoke while lying in his tanning bed.

Posted by: HughBriss | December 9, 2010 3:23 PM | Report abuse

The Surgeon General is guilty of flagrant scientific fraud for ignoring more than 50 studies, which show that human papillomaviruses cause at least a quarter of non-small cell lung cancers. Smokers and passive smokers are more likely to have been exposed to this virus, for socioeconomic reasons. And the anti-smokers' studies are all based on nothing but lifestyle questionnaires, so they're cynically DESIGNED to blame tobacco for all those extra lung cancers that are really caused by HPV. And those criminals commit the same type of fraud with every disease they blame on tobacco.

For the government to commit fraud to deprive us of our liberty is automatically a violation of our right to the equal protection of the laws, no different from purposely throwing innocent people in prison. And its spreading lies about phony "smoking dangers" is an act of TERRORISM, no different from calling in a phony bomb threat. The Surgeon General is a criminal and a terrorist!

Posted by: CarolT1 | December 9, 2010 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Holy moly!! "For the government to commit fraud to deprive us of our liberty is automatically a violation of our right to the equal protection of the laws, no different from purposely throwing innocent people in prison. And its spreading lies about phony "smoking dangers" is an act of TERRORISM, no different from calling in a phony bomb threat. The Surgeon General is a criminal and a terrorist!"

seriously, you are bringing tea bagging politics into solid heath research? They are not standing in your way to kill yourself, they are just explaining the many ways in which you may die if you so choose to consume these coffin nails. How is this terrorism unless you consider all health warnings terrorism on the grounds that they scare the bejeezus out of you and all you have to do is stay away? Is warning you against eating a bad diet terrorism? is pointing out that high sugar, high fat, high alcohol consumption also terrorism?

Seriously, Ms. Tobacco shill, go back to your office and take a chill pill and consider quitting smoking yourself.

Posted by: hurtpillow | December 11, 2010 9:52 AM | Report abuse

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