Protect Your Heart from Tobacco

People of different ages and nationalities having fun together

Quit tobacco use on World No Tobacco Day 2018.

Did you know that tobacco use is still a leading cause of preventable death and disability in the world? Each year more than 7 million people worldwide die from diseases caused by tobacco use, including 890,000 from exposure to secondhand smoke. Heart disease, a leading cause of death, has been linked to tobacco use. In fact, about 10% of all cardiovascular disease deaths around the world are related to tobacco use and secondhand smoke. Fortunately, quitting cigarette smoking and other tobacco use and avoiding exposure to secondhand smoke can make a big difference in reducing your risk for heart disease.

It is especially important to remember that breathing in secondhand smoke interferes with the normal functions of the body. Even briefly breathing secondhand smoke can damage the lining of blood vessels. In the United States, secondhand smoke causes nearly 34,000 early deaths from coronary heart disease each year among people who don’t smoke cigarettes.

World No Tobacco Day Is Observed Each Year on May 31

Worldwide, there are 1.1 billion tobacco smokers and nearly 350 million smokeless tobacco users. The World Health Organization (WHO) calls attention to the health and other risks associated with tobacco use through World No Tobacco Day, celebrated annually on May 31. WHO is committed to addressing tobacco use globally, and encourages people around the world to avoid tobacco product use and secondhand smoke exposure.

CDC works with WHO and other partners to help countries collect information on tobacco use through surveys such as the Global Adult Tobacco Survey and the Global Youth Tobacco Survey. The information gathered is used to help countries monitor tobacco use, provide guidance for tobacco prevention and control programs, and compare tobacco use among different countries and regions. By working together to address tobacco product use and secondhand smoke exposure, countries can prevent millions of deaths each year from tobacco-related illness, as well as save billions of dollars in health care costs.

In the United States, coronary heart disease and stroke—both of which can be caused by smoking—are among the leading causes of death. Brian, a former smoker and participant in the Tips From Former Smokers® campaign, suffered a heart attack at age 35 because he smoked. He had started smoking cigarettes at age 12, and smoked heavily for years. Even after being treated for his heart attack, Brian’s heart problems continued to worsen. He had several surgeries, including one in which a defibrillator—a device that helps regulate abnormal heartbeats—was put in his chest.

Brian, a former smoker, had a heart transplant after years of smoking.

Eventually, Brian’s heart became so damaged that he needed a heart transplant. It wasn’t until he quit smoking that Brian was eligible to receive a donated heart. Brian now shares with others how important it was to quit smoking. Quitting cuts cardiovascular disease risks. Just one year after quitting smoking, your risk for a heart attack drops sharply.

Quitting Resources

The following websites contain useful information for smokers and other tobacco users:

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