Tobacco Products

Women’s Health and Smoking

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Smoking continues to have a profound impact on the health and well-being of women and their families in the United States.

  • About 15% of all women smoke cigarettes.1
  • Every day, more than 1,400 girls under 18 years of age smoke their first cigarette.2
  • Nearly 860,000 (about 11% of) high school aged girls smoke cigarettes.3

Impacts of Smoking on Women and Their Families

There's abundant research about the many harms of smoking—whether it's the dangerous chemicals, the addictive properties, or the damage smoking causes to the lungs, the heart, and nearly every organ. For women who smoke, these effects can have a profound impact on not only your own body, but also those around you. Here are some facts about smoking's effects on women, families, babies, and pregnant moms.

For Women

  • Smoking causes coronary heart disease, cancer, and stroke—the first, second, and fourth leading causes of death in the United States.4,5
  • Smoking cigarettes causes chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). People with COPD have trouble breathing and slowly start to die from lack of air. Women who smoke cigarettes are up to 40 times more likely to develop COPD than female nonsmokers.6
  • Life expectancy for smokers is at least 10 years less than for nonsmokers.7

For Families

  • Secondhand smoke causes disease and premature death in nonsmoking adults and children.8
  • The U.S. Surgeon General estimates that living with a smoker increases a nonsmoker's chances of developing lung cancer by 20-30%.8
  • Exposure to secondhand smoke increases school children's risk for ear infections, lower respiratory illnesses, more frequent and more severe asthma attacks, and slowed lung growth, and can cause coughing, wheezing, phlegm, and breathlessness.8,9
  • Teens are more likely to smoke if they have friends or family who smoke.10

For Babies and Pregnant Moms

  • Smoking before, during, and after pregnancy can affect the baby's health.11
  • Infants born to mothers who smoked during pregnancy are at a higher risk of low birth weight, lungs that don't develop in a normal way, and sudden infant death syndrome.4,9

Next Steps

The good news is that you can do something about it now—smoking truly is what the CDC terms a "modifiable" risk factor.

Encourage the women in your life—the mothers, daughters, sisters, and friends—to put their own health first by finding a quit method that works for them.


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1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Current Cigarette Smoking Among Adults – United States, 2005-2012. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 2014;63: 29-34.

2. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Results from the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Detailed Tables. Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality; 2015. http://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/NSDUH-DetTabs2014/NSDUH-DetTabs2014.pdf. Accessed September 11, 2015.

3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Tobacco product use among middle and high school students—United States, 2011-2014. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 2015; 64(14):381-385. (Sex Specific population estimates are weighted frequencies generated directly from NYTS 2014 using SUDAAN.)

4. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Smoking—50 Years of Progress. A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health; 2014. http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/sgr/50th-anniversary/index.htm. Accessed April 14, 2014.

5. Hoyert DL and Xu JQ. Deaths: Preliminary data for 2011. Natl Vital Stat Rep. 2012;61(6). Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr61/nvsr61_06.pdf. Accessed March 19, 2014.

6. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (USDHHS). (2014). Let's Make the Next Generation Tobacco-Free: Your Guide to the 50th Anniversary Surgeon General's Reporton Smoking and Health (Consumer Booklet). Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health.

7. Jha P, Ramasundarahettige C, Landsman V, Rostrom B, Thun M, Anderson RN, McAfee T, Peto R. 21st Century Hazards of Smoking and Benefits of Cessation in the United States. [PDF-782 KB]. New England Journal of Medicine, 2013;368(4):341–50 [accessed 2014 Feb 6].

8. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Coordinating Center for Health Promotion, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health; 2006. http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/reports/secondhandsmoke/fullreport.pdf. Accessed April 14, 2014.

9. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke: A Report of the Surgeon General—Secondhand Smoke: What It Means to You. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Coordinating Center for Health Promotion, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health; 2006. http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/reports/secondhandsmoke/secondhandsmoke.pdf. Accessed November 11, 2014.

10. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (USDHHS). A Report of the Surgeon General: Preventing Tobacco Use among Youth and Young Adults. We Can Make the Next Generation Tobacco-Free (Consumer Booklet). Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health; 2012.

11. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Smoking During Pregnancy. Updated January 8, 2014. http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/health_effects/pregnancy/. Accessed February 27, 2014.


 

Page Last Updated: 04/20/2016
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