Get Informed - Tobacco

Not so Fun Facts

Cigarette smoking is on the decline.  However, teens are still participating in this deadly habit:

  • 28.9% of high school students had tried cigarette smoking (even one or two puffs).(1)
  • 8.8% of students smoke cigarettes regularly.(1)
  • 42.2% of high school students have ever tried an electronic vapor product (e.g., e-cigarette, hookah). (1)
  • 5.5% of students have used smokeless tobacco (e.g., chewing tobacco, snuff, or dip) at least once.(1)
Get Informed - Tobacco

Frequently Asked Questions

How Is Tobacco Used?

Tobacco can be smoked in cigarettes, cigars, or pipes. It can be chewed or, if powdered, sniffed. “Bidis” are an alternative cigarette. They come originally from India and are hand-rolled. In the U.S., bidis became popular with teens because they come in colorful packages with flavor choices.

Some teens think that bidis  or smokeless tobacco alternatives are less harmful than regular cigarettes, but in fact they may have more nicotine, which may make people smoke more, giving bidis or smokeless tobacco products the potential to be even more harmful than cigarettes.

The smoking of electronic vapor cigarettes (“e-cigarettes”) has recently become popular among teens as well.   Some teens thinks that e-cigarettes are harmless.  While E-cigarettes allow people to avoid some of the harmful constituents found in tobacco smoke, these cigarettes still deliver nicotine, and so cannot be considered harmless.

Is Nicotine the Only Harmful Part of Tobacco?

No. Nicotine is only one of more than 4,000 chemicals (many of which are poisonous), found in the smoke from tobacco products. Smokeless tobacco products also contain many toxins, as well as high levels of nicotine.

Many of these other ingredients are things we would never consider putting in our bodies, like tar, carbon monoxide, acetaldehyde, and nitrosamines. Tar causes lung cancer, emphysema, and bronchial diseases. Carbon monoxide causes heart problems, which is one reason why smokers are at high risk for heart disease.

Is Tobacco Addictive?

Yes.  Nicotine is so addictive that many teens do get addicted.  While most teens do not try tobacco for the first time with the intent of getting addicted, it is so easy to get addicted that 70%  of teenage smokers wish they’d never taken up the habit in the first place.

What Are the Common Street Names?

You might hear cigarettes referred to as “smokes,” “cigs,” or “butts.” Smokeless tobacco is often called “chew,” “dip,” “spit tobacco,” “snus,” or “snuff.” People may refer to hookah smoking as “narghile,” “argileh,” “shisha,” “hubble-bubble,” or “goza.”

How Many Teens Use It?

In 2017, 13.4 percent of 12th-graders, 7.6 percent of 10th-graders, and 5.2 percent of 9th-graders still reported smoking in the month. (1)

Use of electronic vapor products (such as e-cigarettes, hookahs, etc) is also increasing. According to the survey, current use of smokeless tobacco among 9th-graders was 9.5 percent and 11.4 percent for 11th-graders. Among 12th-graders, 18.3 percent reported using smokeless tobacco in the last month. (1)

How Does Tobacco Affect Your Athletic Performance? (2)
  • Nicotine narrows your blood vessels and puts added strain on your heart.
  • Smoking can wreck lungs and reduce oxygen available for muscles used during sports.
  • Smokers suffer shortness of breath almost 3 times more often than nonsmokers.
  • Smokers run slower and can’t run as far, affecting overall athletic performance.
  • Athletes who smoke can never reach the peak of their natural ability or do as well as nonsmoking athletes because their bodies get less oxygen.
  • Cigars and spit tobacco are NOT safe alternatives.
How Much Do Cigarettes Cost?

One pack of cigarettes cost at least $5 but can cost up to $13 per pack (based on where you live and the brand you buy). If you smoke a pack per day, even at the lowest cost (5 dollars) multiplied by the days in a year (365), the yearly cost for cigarettes is $1,825.

Consider all the money that could be spent on CDs, clothes, computer games, and movies if you didn’t smoke cigarettes!

What Myths about Tobacco Exist?

There are many common myths about tobacco.  View the video from below from the CDC, which discusses the 7 myths that are commonly associated with smoking .

The videos can be seen at:

Is Secondhand Smoke Harmful?

Secondhand smoke (also known as environmental tobacco smoke) is the smoke a smoker breathes out and that comes from the tip of burning cigarettes, pipes, and cigars.  Secondhand smoke is almost as harmful as smoking.  Each year, secondhand smoke causes about 3,000 deaths from lung cancer and tens of thousands of deaths from heart disease to nonsmoking adults in the United States.

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Tips to Avoid Smoking

Get Informed - Tobacco

Know the truth. Despite all the tobacco use on TV and in movies, music videos, billboards and magazines-most teens, adults, and athletes ARE NOT using tobacco.


  • Tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of death in the United States, causing heart disease, cancers (oral or lung), and strokes.
  • Smokers cough and have asthma attacks more often and develop respiratory problems, leading to poorer athletic performance.
  • Tobacco will permanently stain your teeth and cause bad breath.
  • Tobacco can soil your clothes and make your clothes and hair stink.
  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adolescents who smoke are 3 times more likely to drink alcohol, 8 times more likely to smoke marijuana and 22 times more likely to use cocaine. For that reason, tobacco has been dubbed a “gateway” drug.
  • Adolescents can become hooked on cigarettes after smoking only a few packs and once addicted, they find it extremely hard to quit.


For reasons to not start smoking refer to:

Need Help? What If you Think You are Addicted to Tobacco?

Below is a “Hooked on Nicotine” checklist. One “yes,” means you may be addicted to cigarettes. The more yes answers, the more dependent you are.


  1. Have you ever tried to quit smoking, but couldn’t?
  2. Do you smoke now because it is really hard to quit?
  3. Have you ever felt as if you were addicted to tobacco?
  4. Do you ever have strong cravings to smoke?
  5. Have you ever felt as if you really needed a cigarette?
  6. Is it hard to keep from smoking in places where you are not supposed to, like school?
  7. When you tried to stop smoking or when you haven’t used tobacco for a while: Did you find it hard to concentrate because you couldn’t smoke?
  8. Did you feel more irritable because you couldn’t smoke?
  9. Did you feel a strong need or urge to smoke?
  10. Did you feel nervous, restless or anxious because you couldn’t smoke?


What If I am Addicted and Want to Quit?

If you’re already addicted, there’s help available to you. You can successfully quit smoking with help and support. Get support from family and friends.  Just ask your doctor for help finding a program to stop smoking.or call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (800/784-8669). 1-800-QUIT NOW is a national toll-free telephone counseling resource.



  1. 2017 National Youth Risk Behavior Study, seen at last accessed January 2019.
  2. Youth and Tobacco use from the CDC at http:// (with permission)


Information Last updated January 2019

Disclaimer: All health information on is for informational purposes only. The Content is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a trusted adult/guardian or professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Never disregard parental or professional medical advice or delay in seeking these because of something you have read on the website. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call a trusted adult and your doctor or 911 immediately.


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