Tobacco is a plant grown for its leaves, which are smoked, chewed, or sniffed for a variety of effects. It is addictive because it contains the chemical nicotine. Tobacco also contains more than 60 known cancer-causing chemicals. In addition, many substances are added to cigarettes by manufacturers to enhance the flavor.

Nicotine is the addictive substance in tobacco, although researchers are looking for other substances that may also contribute to tobacco dependence. Regular use of tobacco products leads to addiction in many users.

Most smokers in the United States would like to quit smoking. Most people who have quit smoking made at least one unsuccessful quit attempt in the past. Try not to view past attempts to quit as failures, but rather as learning experiences.

There are many reasons to quit using tobacco. Knowing the serious health risks may help motivate you to quit. When used over a long period, tobacco and related chemicals such as tar and nicotine can increase your risk of many health problems:

  • Heart and blood vessel problems, including blood clots, high blood pressure and coronary artery disease
  • Cancer (especially in the lung, mouth, larynx, esophagus, bladder, kidney, pancreas and cervix)
  • Poor wound healing, especially after surgery
  • Lung problems such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis, or asthma that is harder to control
  • Problems during pregnancy, such as babies born at low birth weight, premature labor, miscarriage and cleft lip
  • Other health risks or problems, including decreased ability to taste and smell, loss of sight, wrinkling of the skin, and tooth and gum diseases

Sources: MedlinePlus and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Note: This topic was prepared to help consumers find reliable health resources on the web. This site is not responsible for the information on other sites. The information here — and on all websites — is not intended to be a substitute for care given to you by a health professional.

The Basics

Smoking and Tobacco Use Fast Facts, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
This information includes costs and trends related to use of tobacco products.

Health Risks: Cancer

Tobacco and Cancer, American Cancer Society
Information on tobacco, prevention and quitting.

Health Risks: Heart Disease and Stroke

Smoking and Cardiovascular Disease, American Heart Association
Information about smoking as a risk factor for heart disease.

Health Risks: Tobacco Use and Pregnancy

Tobacco Use and Pregnancy, CDC's Reproductive Health Information
Information on the health risks of smoking during pregnancy, various fact sheets and trends.

Health Risks: Secondhand Smoke

Secondhand Smoke, American Cancer Society
Secondhand smoke definition, ingredient list and associated health risks.

Who's Working on This Issue Locally?

Quit Tobacco Program, Health District of Northern Larimer County
The Health District's Quit Tobacco program can help people to quit smoking or quit using chewing tobacco. This service provides both one-on-one and group counseling to individuals, with sliding-scale fees, and also serves local employee groups. For more information, click the link above to visit the website.

Tobacco Free Colorado, State of Colorado
A statewide website with statistics, prevention information, quitting resources and more.

Tobacco Prevention, Larimer County
Larimer County supports efforts to prevent and reduce tobacco use and tobacco smoke exposure for people living and working in Larimer County.

Group to Alleviate Smoking Pollution (GASP)
GASP is a nonprofit advocacy organization working in Colorado to educate the public about secondhand smoke and promote smoke-free policies.


Healthy People 2020 Tobacco Prevention Goals
Healthy People 2020 offers national health objectives designed to identify and reduce the most significant preventable threats to health in the United States.

Smokefree Teen
A site designed and run by the National Cancer Institute. Geared toward teen smokers, the site offers information about how the decision to smoke affects teens' health, the impacts smoking might have on their future, and ways to make changes.


State Tobacco Activities Tracking and Evaluation System, CDC
The STATE System is an electronic data warehouse of state-level data on tobacco use prevention and control, developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the Office on Smoking and Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.

Still Looking?

Best Health Sites
Want to explore the World Wide Web of health information? This collection of web links, organized by site type, will help you find the health information you're looking for.

Health and Healthcare Statistics
Looking for health and healthcare statistics at the local, state and national level? This collection of web links will help you find the health data you're looking for. Great for researchers, grant writers, students and the curious.

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