Health Status > Health Behaviors
According to the U.S. Surgeon General, smoking
damages every organ in the human body. Cigarette smoke contains
toxic ingredients that prevent red blood cells from carrying a full
load of oxygen, impair genes that control the growth of cells, and
bind to the airways of smokers. This contributes to numerous chronic
illnesses, including several types of cancers, chronic obstructive
pulmonary disease (COPD), cardiovascular disease, reduced bone density
and fertility, and premature death.1 In 2004, almost
60 million people in the United States aged 12 and older smoked
cigarettes within the past month. Among women, the rate of smoking
in the past month was 22.3 percent, compared to 27.7 percent among
men. This rate has declined over the past several decades among
both sexes. In 1985, the rate among males was 43.4 percent, and
among females it was 34.5 percent.
Quitting smoking has major and immediate health
benefits. In 2004, over 40 percent of smokers reported trying to
quit at least once in the past year. Females were slightly more
likely than males to attempt to quit (43.9 versus 42.0 percent).
Among both males and females, non-Hispanic Blacks were the most
likely to try to quit smoking (46.7 and 54.0 percent, respectively).
1 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The health consequences of smoking: a report of the Surgeon General.