Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death and disease in Minnesota and the U.S. Smoking impacts every system in the body. It kills 5,100 Minnesota adults each year, causing more deaths than alcohol, murder, car crashes, AIDS, illegal drugs and suicide combined. In addition, smoking harms nearly every organ in the body.
Smoking impacts families’ physical and financial health, and secondhand smoke is also harmful, especially for children.
Smoking in Minnesota
We have made some progress in Minnesota, including reducing the smoking rate from 22 to 14.4 percent between 1999 and 2014. However, some populations continue to smoke at higher rates, including people of low socioeconomic status (i.e., those with lower educational levels and incomes; more detailed information here).
While 14.4 percent of all Minnesota adults smoke:
- 28.6 percent of Minnesotans with less than a high school degree and 20.1 percent with only a high school degree or GED smoke
- 24.4 percent of Minnesota adults with an annual household income of less than $35,000 smoke
- 59 percent of adult American Indian Minnesotans smoke
- 29.4 percent of Minnesota Africans and African Americans smoke
Secondhand smoke is also harmful
Secondhand smoke is a mixture of the smoke that a smoker exhales and “sidestream” smoke, or smoke from a burning cigarette. Secondhand smoke is dangerous to anyone who breathes it in. Almost half of Minnesota adults reported being exposed to secondhand smoke some of the time.
There is no safe amount of secondhand smoke. Even low levels of secondhand smoke, or exposure for a short period of time, can be harmful. And secondhand smoke can stay in the air for several hours after someone smokes.
With more than 7,000 harmful chemicals, at least 250 of which are known to damage your health and 69 of which cause cancer, secondhand smoke can cause serious health issues.
Here are a few of the ways secondhand smoke harms the body:
- Secondhand smoke causes lung cancer in people who have never smoked themselves.
- Breathing secondhand smoke makes it more likely that a nonsmoker will get heart disease‚ have a heart attack and die early.
- Nonsmokers exposed to secondhand smoke are at increased risk of stroke.
- Secondhand smoke can cause breathing problems, including coughing‚ extra phlegm‚ wheezing and shortness of breath.
Smoking hurts children
Secondhand smoke is especially dangerous for children, babies and women who are pregnant. In Minnesota, 282,000 kids are exposed to secondhand smoke at home.
Exposure to secondhand smoke results in:
- Increased risk of SIDS deaths
- 300,000 child respiratory infections each year in the U.S.
- 26,000 new cases of childhood asthma each year in the U.S.
Some other serious health effects that can be caused by secondhand smoke exposure include:
- Smaller babies. Mothers who breathe secondhand smoke while pregnant are more likely to have smaller babies. Babies born with low birth weight have higher risk for many serious health problems.
- Breathing problems.
- 40 percent of kids who visit the emergency room for asthma live with a smoker.
- Kids who are exposed to secondhand smoke get bronchitis and pneumonia more often.
- Secondhand smoke also causes lung problems‚ including coughing‚ wheezing and breathlessness among school-aged kids.
- Ear infections. Kids exposed to secondhand smoke are more likely to get ear infections.