Not smoking is the single best thing you can do to lower your risk of cancer and boost your overall health.

Smoking is the leading cause of death in the United States. It causes 30 percent of all cancer deaths – that’s 400,000 deaths per year.  And in addition to causing lung cancer, smoking is a key risk factor for 14 other cancers, including cancer of the head and neck, bladder, breast, kidney, cervix, esophagus, pancreas, stomach, colon, rectum, and blood (certain leukemias).

Outside of cancer, smoking greatly increases the risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, osteoporosis, emphysema, and chronic bronchitis.

Even just one cigarette per day can hurt your health.

What’s in cigarette smoke?

One of the main ingredients in cigarette smoke is the addictive drug nicotine. It also contains over 4,000 other chemicals, over 40 of which are known to cause cancer. Some of these chemicals are:

  • cyanide, an ingredient in rat poison
  • formaldehyde, a chemical that preserves dead bodies
  • ammonia, an ingredient in cleaning fluids
  • acetylene, a chemical that lights blow torches

How can I quit smoking?

Quitting isn’t easy, but people do it successfully every day.

Different methods work for different people. And it may take a number of attempts before you stop for good.  What’s important is to simply keep on trying until it works. Don’t give up.

A lot of people quit cold turkey – just stop and never look back.  Good evidence, though, shows that seeing a doctor and using certain quit-aids – like nicotine replacement and certain medications – can double and maybe even triple the chances of success.

So, if you’re ready to quit or just thinking about it, talk to a doctor or other health care professional about which method is right for you. is also a great source of help for quitting.  In addition to information and referrals, the site offers innovative interactive apps and text messaging cessation programs for everyone.

Want to talk to someone instead?  Call 1-800-Quit-Now (1-800-784-8669) for the same great information and resources.

Not Ready to Try Quitting?

If you’re not quite ready to quit, take some time to gather information and just think about the advantages and disadvantages of smoking. What do you like about it? What do you dislike about it? Learning more about smoking and how it affects your body may help you answer these questions. You may find that the disadvantages outweigh the advantages. and 1-800-QUIT-NOW are great sources for this type of information as well.

What about Electronic Cigarettes (E-Cigs)?

Electronic cigarettes are growing quickly in popularity.  They’re often marketed as a safer alternative to standard tobacco cigarettes as well as a tool for quitting smoking. Though on the face of it electronic cigarettes would appear to be safer than standard cigarettes, there are many unknown questions about their risks and benefits. Until those questions are answered, avoiding electronic cigarettes is best.  Smokers looking for help quitting should talk to a health care professional about FDA-approved cessation aids, like gum, lozenges, patches, and certain medications.