The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that the adverse effects from smoking cigarettes are responsible for more than 443,000 deaths in the United States annually. That is about one in every five deaths. To put this in perspective, complications from smoking are responsible for more deaths than suicides, HIV, drug overdose, murders and accidents put together.
Smoking introduces toxins into the blood and contributes to the development of atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is a condition which leads to the hardening of the coronary arteries due to the deposit of fatty plaques and the thickening and scaring of the walls of the arteries. The consequent development of blood clots leads to an obstruction in the flow of blood which causes strokes or heart attacks. According to the CDC, the incidence of stroke in the United States is estimated at 600,000 cases annually. Strokes are the third leading cause of death in the United States and the smoking of cigarettes is the major contributing factor.
Secondhand Smoke and Children
Secondhand smoke is a combination of the smoke which smokers breathe out and the smoke emitted from the burning end of a cigarette. This CDC states that secondhand smoke causes many health issues in children, including sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), ear infections, severe asthma attacks, and other respiratory infections. This is because secondhand smoke contains more than 7000 chemicals, of which 70 are known to cause cancer. SIDS is the leading cause of death in healthy infants. SIDS affects infants who have been exposed to secondhand smoke after birth. It also affects those children whose mothers smoke during pregnancy.
Secondhand Smoke and Adults
The CDC reports that secondhand smoke is responsible for over 46,000 premature deaths among adults in the United States annually. This is as a result of heart diseases due to the inhalation of secondhand smoke. The report goes on to state that non-smokers who are exposed to secondhand smoke have a 25 to 30 percent increased chance of developing heart disease.