The risk of developing type 2 diabetes is 30% to 40% higher for current smokers than nonsmokers. Evidence shows that smoking is associated with increased belly fat, a known risk factor for type 2 diabetes. The more cigarettes a person smokes, the higher their risk of developing type 2 diabetes. People with diabetes who smoke are more likely than nonsmokers to have trouble controlling their blood sugar.
People with diabetes who smoke also have higher risks of serious complications, such as heart disease, kidney disease, and poor blood flow in the legs and feet that can lead to infections, ulcers, and amputations. Other complications include retinopathy (eye disease that can cause blindness) and peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage in the arms and legs that causes numbness, pain, weakness, and poor coordination).
Nearly 38 million US adults smoke cigarettes, and 58 million nonsmokers are exposed to secondhand smoke.
CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health is at the forefront of the nation’s efforts to reduce deaths and prevent chronic diseases that result from smoking, including type 2 diabetes. CDC and its partners promote efforts to prevent young people from starting to smoke, create smoke-free worksites and public spaces, help smokers quit, and reduce health disparities for groups with higher rates of chronic diseases caused by smoking.
Since 2012, CDC has been educating the public about the consequences of smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke and encouraging smokers to quit through its Tips From Former Smokers® (Tips®) education campaign. The Tips campaign features real people—not actors—who are living with serious health conditions caused by smoking and secondhand smoke exposure. It connects smokers with resources to help them quit, including a free national quitline (1-800-QUIT-NOW).
Diabetes Complications and CDC’s Response
CDC strives to safeguard the health and improve the quality of life of all people with diabetes. Central to that effort is helping them prevent or reduce the severity of diabetes complications, including heart disease (the leading cause of early death among people with diabetes), kidney disease, blindness, and nerve damage that can lead to lower-limb amputations.
Diabetes self-management education and support (DSMES) programs help people meet the challenges of self-care by providing them with the knowledge and skills to deal with daily diabetes management: eating healthy food, being active, checking their blood sugar, and managing stress. These programs have been shown to reduce A1C levels (average blood sugar over the last 2 to 3 months), reduce the onset and severity of diabetes complications, improve quality of life, and lower health care costs.
Diabetes is about 17% more prevalent in rural areas than urban ones, but 62% of rural counties do not have a DSMES program. The use of telehealth (delivery of the program by phone, Internet, or videoconference) may allow more patients in rural areas to benefit from DSMES and the National DPP lifestyle change program. CDC funds state and local health departments to improve access to, participation in, and health benefit coverage for DSMES, with emphasis on programs that achieve American Association of Diabetes Educators accreditation or American Diabetes Association recognition. These programs meet national quality standards and may be more sustainable because of reimbursement eligibility.