Smoking & Disease

Smoking is still the number one cause of preventable disease and death in NYS. Approximately 2.4 million adults continue to use tobacco. Every year in NYS, smoking kills 28,200 adults. And, despite significant declines in smoking rates among NYS adults and youth, the rates of smokers with lower incomes, lower educational attainment or mental illness have not declined at the same pace.

Smoking causes many diseases including:

  • Cancer almost anywhere in the body (including in the lung, colon, rectum, liver, bladder, pancreas, uterus, and head and neck)
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Heart disease and stroke
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Buerger's disease (a disease of the blood vessels in arms and legs, which can cause pain, gangrene, and lead to amputation.)
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Age-related macular degeneration (loss of vision)

Smoking also causes serious problems during pregnancy, for both the mother and the baby:

  • Your baby may be born too small, even after a full-term pregnancy. Smoking slows your baby's growth before birth.
  • Your baby may be born too early (premature birth). Premature babies often have health problems.
  • Smoking can damage your baby's developing lungs and brain. The damage can last through childhood and into the teen years.
  • Smoking doubles your risk of abnormal bleeding during pregnancy and delivery. This can put both you and your baby in danger.
  • Smoking can cause ectopic pregnancy, a condition in which the fertilized egg fails to move to the uterus and instead attaches in the fallopian tube or to other organs outside the womb. Ectopic pregnancy almost always causes the fetus to die and poses a serious risk to the mother.
  • Smoking raises your baby's risk for birth defects, including cleft lip, cleft palate, or both. A cleft is an opening in your baby's lip or in the roof of her mouth (palate). He or she can have trouble eating properly and is likely to need surgery.
  • Babies of moms who smoke during pregnancy—and babies exposed to cigarette smoke after birth—have a higher risk for SIDS.

If you are pregnant, more information on quitting smoking can be found at Smoking Cessation and Pregnancy

Smoking also causes fertility problems for both men and women:

  • If you are a woman, you may have more trouble getting pregnant.
  • If you are a man, smoking can damage your sperm and contribute to impotence.

Smoking also affects general health. Smokers may experience the following:

  • Shortness of breath
  • High blood pressure
  • Memory problems
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Gum disease
  • Cavities

Secondhand smoke kills too. Children and adults exposed to secondhand smoke are more likely to get pneumonia, ear infections, bronchitis, severe asthma, and cavities. Pets who are exposed to secondhand smoke are more likely to develop breathing problems, sinus/nasal infections, nasal cancer, and lung cancer.