Just one cigarette can be the one that causes a heart attack, warned Surgeon General Regina Benjamin today in her new report on tobacco. For someone with underlying heart disease, one cigarette can be deadly.
According to the new report, even brief exposure to tobacco smoke, from occasional smoking to second-hand smoke, causes immediate harm to the body, damaging cells and inflaming tissue in ways that can lead to serious illness and death. About 443,000 Americans die from tobacco-caused illnesses every year. While the smoking rate has dropped dramatically since 1964, when the first surgeon general’s report declared tobacco deadly, there has been less progress in the last ten years. About one in five Americans, over 40 million adults, still smoke. Additionally, tens of millions more are regularly exposed to secondhand smoke.
While this is the 30th report issued by the nation’s surgeons general to warn the public about tobacco’s risks, it is unusual because it focuses on the biology of how cigarette smoke causes disease, and includes the latest genetic findings to help explain why some people become more addicted than others.
Tobacco companies have designed cigarettes to be more addictive, said the report. Companies have deliberately designed cigarettes and other tobacco products to deliver nicotine more quickly and efficiently than they did years ago. Smoking has been made more pleasant by adding ammonia, which converts nicotine into a form that gets to the brain faster, and sugar and “moisture enhancers,” which reduce the burning sensation.
Check out the consumer version of the report – “How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease: What It Means To You”.