Parent's Guide

(Awareness)

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19. Tobacco

The smoking of tobacco products is the chief avoidable cause of death in our society. Smokers are more likely than nonsmokers to contract heart disease, hundreds of thousands die each year from smoking-related coronary heart disease. Lung, larynx, esophageal, bladder, pancreatic, and kidney cancers also strikes smokers at increased rates. A high percentage of cancer deaths are linked to smoking. Chronic, obstructive lung diseases such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis are 10 times more likely to occur among smokers than among nonsmokers.

Smoking during pregnancy also poses serious risks. Spontaneous abortion, pre-term birth, low birthweights, and fetal and infant deaths are all more likely to occur when the pregnant woman is a smoker.

Cigarette smoke contains some 4,000 chemicals, several of which are known carcinogens. Perhaps the most dangerous substance in tobacco smoke is nicotine. Nicotine is the substance that reinforces and strengthens the desire to smoke. Because nicotine is highly addictive, addicts find it very difficult to stop smoking. Of 1,000 smokers, fewer than 20 percent succeed in stopping on the first try.

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