The Harm to smoking and tobacco to human health

Smoking and health

Table of contents

  • Explanations and recommendations
  • Tobacco - the main threat to health
  • Morbidity and smoking
    Tobacco: the spread of smoking habits and trends
    Smoking: modern scientific problems
    The health effects of cigarettes with a low yield of nicotine and tar
    Controlling smoking
    VIII. Afterword
    The effect of smoking on human health is one of the most well-studied problems of modern medicine and public health. The causal relationship between smoking and a number of malignant tumors, cardiovascular and chronic lung diseases is unquestionable. Smoking has a huge impact on human health indicators and in many countries leads to premature death of a significant part of the population. Among diseases whose development is more or less related to smoking, malignant tumors of different locations, coronary heart disease, pulmonary heart, aortic aneurysm, peripheral vascular disease, hypertension, atherosclerosis, cerebral vascular thrombosis and chronic nonspecific lung diseases should be mentioned. Mortality from the diseases listed above is 50-60% of the total mortality in developed countries.

    In the USSR, morbidity and mortality from the majority of these diseases over the past decades have increased and continue to grow. Despite the fact that the role of smoking in their origin, as noted, is well known, very little has been done to prevent them.


    Based on statistics on the sale of tobacco products, as well as on the results of population surveys, it can be said that the number of smokers in our country has been increasing until recently, while in some countries of Europe and America this figure began to decline in the late 1970s. Following a decrease in the incidence of smoking in these countries, there have been trends in reducing morbidity and mortality from cardiovascular diseases and lung cancer. If other factors, such as changes in diet and / or increased physical activity, could affect the cardiovascular indicators, then the decrease in the incidence of lung cancer can be attributed almost entirely to the reduction in the frequency of smoking.

    There have also been significant shifts in the levels of resins contained in tobacco smoke. Consumption of low-tar cigarettes during the last 20-30 years is explained by a decrease in the incidence of lung cancer, which began in the mid-1970s in some countries and continues to this day.

    The monograph "Smoking and Health", which is a work in which almost all aspects of the harmful effects of smoking on human health are considered, as well as the main approaches to the prevention of diseases associated with smoking, is the first publication of this kind in our country. It seems that it will be useful for professionals involved in the anti-smoking campaign in our country.

    Smoking of tobacco products is currently one of the main causes of disease and death: it causes the development of cancer, chronic nonspecific lung diseases and diseases of the cardiovascular system. The list of target organs affected by cancer caused by exposure to tobacco is impressive: lungs, bladder, renal pelvis, oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, pancreas and possibly liver.


    Therefore, the evidence of the severe health consequences of smoking is so convincing and plentiful that it is difficult to understand why it was so difficult (and even now it is not easier) to start successful preventive measures. The answer to this question is probably ambiguous.

    On the one hand, it is a people's difficulty in abandoning a habit that is firmly rooted in their culture and everyday life. Most people believe that making a decision about smoking is their own business, and such a choice is very common. They receive satisfaction from this, and at the same time they are not able to understand or take into account the evidence of a continuous increase in the smoking-related danger. On the other hand, in all countries of the world there is an interest of the state in the incomes received from realization of tobacco products.

    Apparently, governments should be persuaded not only that the sale of tobacco products is incompatible with the concern for preserving the health of citizens, but also that there are other ways to maintain the national economy at the proper level.

    Recently, it has been reported that those who use cigarettes that smoke with tar and nicotine at high concentrations are at greater risk of developing lung cancer than those who smoke cigarettes with less tar release. Tobacco is a mixture containing a large number of different chemicals, many of which have carcinogenic or mutagenic properties. The resin formed as a result of pyrolysis of tobacco undoubtedly contains carcinogenic chemicals, and this suggests that by reducing the level of one of these fractions in the smoke of a burning cigarette, it is possible to reduce the carcinogenic activity of the whole mixture as a whole. Obviously, tobacco smoke will remain carcinogenic if it contains less tar.

    Stopping the manufacture of cigarettes with high levels of resin release during smoking will potentially reduce the risk of developing lung cancer; but there is no doubt that any measure that does not exclude the full production and use of tobacco products is only temporary. It represents only a step towards truly adequate measures to prevent harm to health caused by smoking, namely: to refuse to use tobacco and treat it as a widespread agricultural crop. It should also be made clear that there is absolutely no evidence that so-called small-leaved cigarettes have any effect on reducing the incidence of cardiovascular disease and mortality from them.

    In order to achieve a complete cessation of smoking and the replacement of tobacco by another crop, it will inevitably take time to conduct intensive and widespread health education for the population, which should begin early in life. It is important to bring to the attention of each person that the introduction of tobacco into our culture has happened quite recently and the use of cigarettes has become a widespread habit only during the last century, so there is no reason to believe that mankind will not be able to continue to exist without tobacco. Tobacco is a carcinogen not only in the burning and formation of smoke, but also in the case when it is chewed. Recently, widespread advertising, which states that chewing tobacco is harmless, clearly contradicts the quite definite data on the carcinogenic effect with this method of its use.

    The fact that smoking is spread around the world makes this a truly international public health concern, and I should like to express my gratitude to the All-Union Cancer Center of the Academy of Medical Sciences of the USSR for the initiative to convene this meeting together with IARC.

    Is it true that ...

    Vladimir Presnyakov, Jr. does not smoke?

    True. Do not smoke, and Michael Jackson, and members of the pop group "ABBA". And the students of Scandinavia and Great Britain even consider that smoking is a bad form. They conduct a campaign against smoking in their schools under the motto "Non-smoking generation". High school students come to junior classes, promote a healthy lifestyle, sports, distribute booklets with photos of non-smoking athletes and rock stars. They believe that by the year 2000 a whole generation of non-smoking young people will appear in Scandinavia.

    In the US and Australia, even rock festivals are held that support the fight against smoking.

    This was told us by Alexander Prokhorov, Candidate of Medical Sciences, Senior Researcher of the All-Union Center