Health Impact of Tobacco Use

Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable and premature death in Georgia accounting for 11,700 adults dying from smoking-related illness each year is a risk factor that causes diseases such as heart disease, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), Type 2 Diabetes, and multiple types of cancer.

The impact of smoking can also extend beyond the person who uses tobacco products. Children who are exposed to secondhand smoke are at increased risk of SIDS, impaired lung function, acute respiratory infections, middle ear disease, and more frequent and severe asthma attacks.

Common forms of tobacco products include cigarettes, cigars, hookah, smokeless tobacco (ex. chewing tobacco), and e-cigarettes. These and other tobacco products contribute to cancer and other chronic diseases.

What are the health risks of tobacco use and smoking?


Cigarette smoking causes several types of cancer, including mouth and throat, liver, stomach, and colon. Individuals who do not smoke can also develop lung cancer, and individuals exposed to secondhand smoke at home or work have a 20% to 30% higher risk of getting lung cancer than those not exposed.

Heart Disease and Stroke

One of the major causes of heart disease and stroke is smoking. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smoking causes 1 in every 4 deaths from heart disease and stroke.

Lung Disease

When a person smokes a cigarette, it can cause lung disease by damaging the airways and causing diseases like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema, and chronic bronchitis. Smoking is linked to, as many as 8 in 10 COPD-related deaths. If you have asthma, tobacco smoke can trigger an asthma attack or make an attack worse.


The risk of developing diabetes (type 2) is 30% to 40% higher for current smokers than nonsmokers. The more cigarettes a person smokes, the higher their risk. People with diabetes who smoke are more likely to have trouble managing their blood sugar than non-smokers.

Pregnancy Complications

Cigarette smoking during pregnancy can cause pregnancy complications like premature birth, low birth weight, birth defects, and SIDS. In addition, exposure to secondhand smoke is dangerous for infants and increases the risk of SIDS, slowed lung growth, and middle ear disease.

Oral Health

Smoking cigarettes and the use of smokeless tobacco can cause white or gray patches inside the mouth (leukoplakia) that can lead to cancer. Smoking cigarettes and the use of smokeless tobacco can cause gum disease, tooth decay, and tooth loss. Click HERE for more information.

Helpful Resources

How To Quit Smoking

CDC: Tips From Former Smokers  

Quitting is your best option to reduce your risk from smoking and tobacco use-related diseases. Vaping is not a healthy alternative to smoking. E-cigarettes and vape products are not FDA-approved cessation devices. For more information and support to help you quit contact the Georgia Tobacco Quit Line.

Click HERE for more information about quitting.

Last updated 7/12/2023