Tobacco - Frequently Asked Questions

What is in tobacco?

  • The burning of tobacco produces smoke that contains more than 4000 chemicals including nicotine, tar, and carbon monoxide.
  • Tar is made up of thousands of chemicals, 50 of which are known to cause cancer.
  • Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas formed when tobacco is burned. Carbon monoxide lowers the amount of oxygen carried in your blood, and therefore limits how much oxygen your body gets.
  • Nicotine is an addictive drug that affects the brain and nervous system. It acts as a stimulant and increases heart rate and breathing.
  • At higher doses nicotine is a deadly poison that has been used as an insecticide.

( Adapted from Centre for Addiction and Mental Health   External Link )

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What are the long term health effects of using tobacco?

  • Tobacco use is the number one cause of preventable disease and death in Ontario.
  • Tobacco use is known to cause a number of chronic diseases including:
    • Cancers of many types; lung, mouth, throat, pancreas, kidney, bladder, and cervix .
    • Heart Disease and Stroke
    • Lung Diseases such as chronic bronchitis and emphysema
    • Osteoporosis
  • Tobacco kills 16,000 Ontarians each year.

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What health problems are related to exposure to second-hand smoke?

Exposure to second-hand smoke has been linked to:

  • An increased risk of  complications during pregnancy and delivery, and of delivering babies of low birth weight.
  • Sudden infant death syndrome, asthma, ear infections as well as problems with behaviour, attention, and the ability to reason and understand in young children
  • More frequent lower respiratory tract problems, such as, coughs, bronchitis, pneumonia, and croup.
  • Cancer and heart disease - More than 1, 000 Canadian non-smokers die from cancer and heart disease every year.

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What are the most recent statistics concerning tobacco use?

  • Cigarette smoking is the most common addiction and one of the most difficult to overcome
    • 8 out of 10 teens who try smoking get hooked
    • Over half of grade 12 students are unable to quit
    • Only 5% of student smokers think they will be smoking in 5 years. But 5 years later, 80% are heavy smokers
    • 80% of smokers would like to quit
  • (The Canadian Lung Association)
  • Of every 1000 Canadians aged 20 who continue to smoke, about half (500) will die from smoking—250 of them before the age of 70.
  • The prevalence of smoking more than one cigarette in the past year among all Ontario students in grades 7 to 12 in 2005 is 14%.
  • In Halton, 16% (+/- 2) of adults aged 18 years and over, were current smokers in 2005. This statistic is the same as the provincial average.
  • In Halton, only 7% of non-smokers 12+ years of age reported being exposed to second-hand smoke in the home. However, 22% of adults aged 19+ in Halton still allow people to smoke in the vehicle driven most frequently.

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What is smokeless tobacco?

Please visit the following links for information regarding smokeless tobacco:

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