Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.
Cigarette smoking remains a leading contributor to death and illness among Americans. Every year, roughly 440,000 Americans die from illnesses caused by tobacco use, accounting for nearly one-fifth of all deaths. Smoking cigarettes kills more people in the U.S. than
alcohol, car accidents,
AIDS, homicide, and illegal drugs combined.
Tobacco use costs the nation about $100 billion each year in direct medical expenses and in lost productivity for a total cost of about 200 billion per year as estimated by the CDC.
About 19.3% of all American adults (45.3 million people) smoke. Slightly more men (21.5%) smoke than women (17.3%). Hispanics (12.5%) and Asian Americans (9.2%) smoke less than whites (21.0%) or African Americans (20.6%). Almost 22% of those 25-44 years
of age are current smokers. About 20% of all high school students are smokers.
Nevertheless, significant progress has been made since 1964, when the Surgeon General issued the first report outlining the health dangers of smoking. Since that time, the prevalence of smoking has dropped from 42.4% among adults to 19.3%. Lung cancer,
chronic bronchitis and emphysema would become infrequently diagnosed diseases if people would stop smoking.
Compared to a nonsmoker, a smoker faces these risks:
fourteen times greater risk of dying from cancer of the lung, throat, or mouth;
four times greater risk of dying from cancer of the esophagus;
two times greater risk of dying from
cancer of the bladder.
Use of other tobacco products such as pipes, cigars, and
snuff is less common, comprising less than 10% of use of all tobacco products; however, the health effects of these products are similar to those of
- particularly their association with cancers of the mouth, throat, and esophagus.
Increasing attention has been devoted to publicizing the dangers of second-hand (environmental) smoke, the association between tobacco marketing and initiation of smoking among youth, and the development of strategies and medications to help smokers quit. According to the CDC, about 126 million people are exposed to
secondhand smoke and are put at risk for tobacco-related problems such as lung cancer,
heart disease and respiratory infections. In addition, a new problem termed
"third-hand smoke" has been recently investigated; cigarette smoke generated carcinogens lodge in clothing, carpets, drapes and other materials and can be absorbed through human skin, especially that of children and infants. These carcinogens can also be ingested and inhaled in dust.
Cigarette smoking has been linked strongly to the following illnesses:
Anyone, but especially smokers, with unexplained or sudden onset chest pain or difficulty breathing should go to the nearest hospital's emergency department, probably by ambulance. These conditions may be symptoms of a heart attack or other serious health problems, which can be life-threatening if not recognized and treated promptly. Tobacco use may cause problems (for example, hypertension, vascular alterations) that lead to shortness of breath or chest pain that may be life-threatening.
Tobacco use may lead or contribute to one of the following causes of dyspnea
or chest pain:
acute attack of emphysema,
pulmonary embolism (blood clot in the lung),
aortic aneurysm (a widening of the main artery leaving the heart, caused by a weakening in the wall of the artery),
(a tearing of the wall of the aorta, which, if it ruptures, bleeds profusely).