Tobacco: The harmful effects of tobacco smoke on the lungs

    Tobacco is one of the greatest health threats the world has ever faced. It is estimated to have killed 100 million people in the twentieth century and could kill 1 billion in the twenty-first century, if left unchecked

    Tobacco, used in the manner it is intended, causes a terrible toll of disease, death, and despair.

    Nicotine, the main psychoactive component of tobacco, is one of the most potent known addicting substances. More than 70% of smokers want to quit, yet fewer than 3% quit and remain abstinent with a given attempt. The addictive nature of nicotine is why tobacco experts strongly oppose the unregulated use of electronic cigarettes, a form of nicotine delivery.

    Tobacco not only inflicts its harm on smokers, but passive smoke inhalation also affects millions of people leading to death and disease.

    • Tobacco kill 1 person every 4 seconds.
    • Tobacco causes about 1.2 million of the 1.8 million lung cancer deaths annually.
    • About 165,000 children under the age of 5 die from respiratory infections caused by second-hand smoke every year−that is one every 3 minutes.
    • Second-hand smoke causes more than 1 million deaths annually–the leading lung conditions associated with these deaths are lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, tuberculosis, and asthma.
    • Tobacco kills up to half of its users.
    • About 80% of the 1.1 billion smokers live in low and middle income countries.
    • Smoking mothers have an increased incidence and severity of asthma in their children.
    • Only 20% of the world’s population are protected by comprehensive national smoke-free laws.

    It is never too late to quit tobacco

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    Quitting tobacco has the potential to reverse some of the damage done by tobacco smoke to the lungs, but not all. Early cessation is therefore essential to preventing the onset of chronic lung disease, which is irreversible once developed. Within just 2 weeks of quitting tobacco, lung function increases.

    FIRS committed to tobacco advocacy

    The Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS) is committed to advocacy and action related to tobacco control. FIRS has produced the following campaigns, press releases and position statements:

     


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