Voa news – smoking



This is Sarah Long.

Cigarette smoke Cigarette smoke

And this is Bob Doughty with SCIENCE IN THE NEWS, a VOA Special English program about recent developments in science. Today, we tell about the health effects of smoking tobacco products. We also offer advice about how to stop smoking.

Artwork by a student in Yavapai County, Arizona Artwork by a student in Yavapai County, Arizona

For many years, scientists have warned that smoking tobacco is bad for your health. Yet people around the world continue to smoke. The World Health Organization estimates that almost five-million people around the world die each year from the effects of smoking. That number is increasing. W-H-O officials say tobacco use will kill more than eight-million people a year by two-thousand-twenty if nothing is done to control the problem.

In the United States, more than forty-six-million adults currently smoke. American health experts say tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States. This year, an estimated four-hundred-forty-thousand Americans will die of diseases linked to smoking.


Smoking tobacco is the leading cause of lung disease. Smoking also has been linked to heart disease, stroke and many kinds of cancer. The American Cancer Society says smoking is responsible for about eighty-seven percent of all lung cancers in the United States. The group adds that smoking is a major cause of cancers of the mouth, esophagus, kidney, bladder and pancreas. Scientists have identified more than forty chemicals in tobacco smoke that cause cancer in humans and animals. Smokeless tobacco and cigars also have been linked to cancer.


American government health experts say smoking affects not only the smoker. Women who smoke cigarettes during pregnancy are more likely to have babies with health problems. Pregnant women who smoke are at risk of having a baby who weighs less than normal. Low birth weight babies have an increased risk of early death and may suffer from a number of health disorders.

Experts say tobacco smoke also affects the health of people who do not smoke. Smokers may harm the health of family members and people at work when they breathe out smoke from cigarettes. This is called “second-hand smoke.” Tobacco smoke causes an estimated three-thousand non-smoking Americans to die of lung cancer each year. Tobacco smoke also causes lung infections in as many as three-hundred-thousand American children each year.

The American Cancer Society says there is no safe way to smoke. It says smoking begins to cause damage immediately. All cigarettes can damage the body. Smoking even a small number of cigarettes is dangerous.



Nicotine is the major substance in cigarettes that gives pleasure to smokers. Nicotine is a poison. The American Cancer Society says nicotine can kill a person when taken in large amounts. It does this by stopping the muscles used for breathing.

The body grows to depend on nicotine. When a former smoker smokes a cigarette, the nicotine reaction may start again, forcing the person to keep smoking.

Studies have found that nicotine can be as powerful as alcohol or the illegal drug cocaine. So experts say it is better not to start smoking and become dependent on nicotine than it is to smoke with the idea of stopping later.


Most people who smoke have heard about the harmful effects of cigarettes. Some of them decide to smoke fewer cigarettes.