Nicotine Use & Addiction

The U.S. Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health (1960s) was one of the first public documents linking smoking to increased risk of cardiac and vascular disease. More recent research ties tobacco use to cancers of the mouth, pharynx, esophagus, lung, pancreas, and bladder. Additional health risks include diabetes; respiratory disorders; premature, low birth-weight infants or spontaneous abortions and periodontal disease. More recently, we have learned that those exposed to secondary smoke from tobacco products are at greater risk for these same conditions (Figure 1).

Figure 1. The Health Consequences Linked to Smoking and Secondhand Smoke.

Image showing the health consequences linked to smoking and secondhand smoke.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2004, 2006.

According to the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, an estimated 66.9 million Americans (25.5% of the population) aged 12 or older reported current use of tobacco. Specifically, 55.8 million (21.3% of the population) are cigarette smokers, 12.4 million (4.7%) smoke cigars, 8.8 million (3.4%) use smokeless tobacco, and 2.3 million (0.9%) smoke pipes, confirming tobacco is still one of the most widely abused substances in the United States.32,38