CDC works to reduce the four main risk factors for preventable chronic diseases: tobacco use, poor nutrition, lack of physical activity, and excessive alcohol use.
- Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable disease, disability, and death in the United States.
- About 34 million US adults smoke cigarettes, and 58 million nonsmokers are exposed to secondhand smoke. Every day, about 1,600 young people under age 18 try their first cigarette, and nearly 200 become daily cigarette smokers.
- Cigarette smoking causes more than 480,000 deaths annually, including 41,000 deaths from secondhand smoke. For every American who dies because of smoking, at least 30 are living with a serious smoking-related illness.
- Smoking-related illness cost the United States over $300 billion each year, including more than $225 billion in direct medical costs.
- CDC is at the forefront of the nation’s efforts to reduce deaths and prevent chronic diseases that result from tobacco use and secondhand smoke exposure.
States that have made larger investments in comprehensive tobacco control programs have seen larger and faster declines in cigarette smoking for adults and young people. For every $1 spent on comprehensive tobacco control programs, states get a $55 return on investment, mostly by averting the health care costs of treating smoking-related illness.
Help People Understand the Dangers of Smoking
For every American who dies because of smoking, at least 30 are living with a serious smoking-related illness. Hard-hitting media campaigns are a proven way to raise awareness about the dangers of smoking and motivate people to quit. CDC’s Tips From Former Smokers® (Tips®) campaign, the first federally funded tobacco education campaign, focuses on motivating US adults who smoke to try to quit. Tips features real people—not actors—who are living with serious health conditions caused by smoking and secondhand smoke exposure.
Tips connects people who smoke with resources to help them quit, including 1-800-QUIT-NOW, which directs people to free services from their state quitlines.
Support People Who Want to Quit Smoking
CDC supports programs to help people stop using tobacco, such as 1-800-QUIT-NOW. This toll-free telephone line routes callers to their state quitlines, which provide free counseling and, in many states, limited supplies of free smoking cessation medications for certain populations. CDC also promotes the national Spanish Language Quitline portal, which routes Spanish-speaking callers to free Spanish-language services, and the national Asian Language Quitline, which provides free services in Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese.
CDC also works with health insurance companies, health care providers and practices, and employers to improve support for tobacco users who want to quit.
Provide Information About the Risks of Tobacco Products for Young People
Despite the good news that cigarette smoking is decreasing among young people, 3.6 million middle and high school students used electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) in 2020. This is a concern because any tobacco use among young people—whether smoked, smokeless, or electronic—is unsafe. Nicotine, which is found in almost all e-cigarettes, is addictive and can harm the developing brain.
In addition to monitoring tobacco use among young people, CDC also helps parents, educators, health care providers, and other youth influencers understand and talk to young people about the dangers of tobacco products. CDC activities include developing easy-to-understand materials using the best available science and leveraging social media platforms to create and deliver information where young people and youth influencers seek information.
Note: Tobacco in this document refers specifically to the use of manufactured, commercial tobacco products and not the sacred and traditional use of tobacco by American Indians and other groups.