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Cigarette Smoking

Alabama’s #13 Health Concern

Adult Cigarette Smoking

Tobacco smoke contains over 70 chemicals known to cause cancer. Exposure to tobacco smoke harms nearly every part of the body. No amount of tobacco smoke is considered safe. Tobacco smoke is associated with a variety of respiratory illnesses, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cardiovascular disease, coronary disease, and stroke. Additionally, tobacco smoke is linked to increased complications regarding pregnancy, reproduction, and birth defects.

Tobacco usage is chiefly considered an adult behavior. However, teenage exposure occurs through underage smoking, and half of all children aged between 3 and 18 years are regularly exposed to second hand cigarette smoke.

Many smokers continue to smoke despite knowing the health risks associated with tobacco smoke. Nicotine addiction is widely known as a common barrier to smoking cessation. Nicotine reaches the brain within ten seconds of inhalation causing the release of dopamine. Released dopamine creates a heightened sense of alertness and contentment. Rapid delivery of nicotine is one of the reasons cigarette smoking is so addictive.

A top public health goal is to reduce tobacco-related illness by decreasing exposure to tobacco smoke and other tobacco products. Efforts to increase awareness and access to smoking cessation programs are key to reducing the impact of tobacco-related illness.

Indicator Highlights

  • The rate of adults who smoke is seven times higher in rural counties than urban counties.
  • The rate of adult males who smoke is 20 percent higher than the rate of adult females who smoke.
  • The rate of adults who smoke steadily increases with lower income and less education.

Health Indicators


Page last updated: May 13, 2021