Note: A 2016 CDC report showed that cigarettes are the most used tobacco product amung U.S. adults. Yearly within the U.S., approximately 480,000 deaths are caused by cigarette smoking and secondhand smoke.9 


What’s in a cigarette?

  • Cigarettes contain over 4,000 chemicals. These chemicals include:1
    • Nicotine, an addictive drug that affects your mood and performance
    • Ammonia, a chemical used in household cleaners
    • Formaldehyde, an embalming fluid
    • Carbon monoxide, a colorless, odorless, highly poisonous gas, that comes out of car exhausts
    • Arsenic, a chemical used in rat poison

Who smokes cigarettes?2

  • An estimated 56.8 million Americans aged 12 or older are cigarette smokers.
  • Young adults aged 18 to 25 years old have the highest rate of current tobacco usage, compared to youth aged 12 to 17 years old and adults aged 26 or older.
  • Males have a higher rate of current tobacco usage than women.
  • The prevalence for cigarette smoking for persons aged 12 years old and older is 13.0 percent for Asians, 20.4 percent for Hispanics, 26.2 percent for African-Americans, 28.6 percent for whites, 36.1 percent for persons reporting two or more races, and 43.0 percent for American Indians.
  • Research has shown cigarette smoking is less prevalent among college graduates than individuals with less education.
  • Current cigarette smoking is more common among unemployed adults aged 18 or older than among adults who work full-time or part-time.

The Consequences of Cigarette Smoking3

  • Cigarette smoking kills more Americans than alcohol, car accidents, suicide, AIDS, homelessness, homicide, and illegal drugs.
  • Smoking is a major cause of multiple cancers.  Cigarette smoking accounts for at least 30% of cancer deaths.
  • Cigarette smoking is linked to an increased risk for cancers of the lung, larynx, oral cavity, throat, esophagus, stomach, pancreas, cervix, kidney, bladder, and ovary.
  • Smoking is also a major cause of other health problems, including heart disease, aneurysms, bronchitis, emphysema, and stroke.
  • Smoking is linked to reduced fertility in women and a higher risk of miscarriage, pre-mature birth, and stillbirth in pregnant women.
  • Smoking is also linked to gum disease, cataracts, bone thinning, hip fractures, and peptic ulcers.
  • Secondhand smoke can also have harmful effects on those individuals exposed to it.

Cigarette Marketing

  • During World War II, cigarettes were provided to returning soldiers courtesy of tobacco companies. Tobacco companies used doctors, dentists, and athletes in their advertisements.4
  • In 1964, the Advisory Committee Report on Smoking and Health linked smoking to various diseases, including lung cancer and emphysema, resulting in increased restrictive legislation against smoking.4
  • In response to increased restrictive legislation, tobacco companies directed their marketing strategy toward women and a younger audience.4
  • In 1968, Phillip Morris marketed Virginia Slims cigarettes to women with the slogan, “You’ve come a long way, baby.”5
  • With the release of women-targeted cigarette brands, including Virginia Slims, Silva Thins, and Eve, smoking among women between the ages of 14 and 17 increased.5
  • In 1996, cigarettes were labeled an “addictive drug”, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sought to gain control over the industry and limit the sales and advertising of tobacco.4
  • In 2000, the Supreme Court ruled against the FDA’s action, stating the federal agency did not have the approval from Congress to regulate tobacco.4
  • In 2009, the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act was passed, granting to FDA the power to regulate tobacco products.4
  • The Tobacco Control Act gives the FDA the authority to regulate the manufacture, distribution, and marketing of tobacco products.4

Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act

What does the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act do?6

  • Restricts tobacco marketing and sales to youth
    • The act requires proof of age to purchase cigarettes.
    • The act requires face-to-face sales of cigarettes, with certain exceptions for vending machines in adult-only facilities.
    • The act bans the sale of packages containing fewer than 20 cigarettes.
  • Grants the FDA authority to further restrict tobacco marketing
    • The act limits the color and design of packaging and advertisements.
  • Requires detailed disclosure of ingredients, nicotine, and harmful smoking constituents
  • Allows FDA to require changes to tobacco products to protect the public health
  • Regulates “reduced harm” claims about tobacco products to prevent inaccurate and misleading claims
  • Requires bigger, bolder health warnings
  • Fully funds FDA regulation of tobacco products through a user fee on manufacturers of cigarettes, cigarette tobacco, and smokeless tobacco
  • Preserves state and local authority over tobacco regulation

Menthol Cigarettes

  • Menthol is a substance naturally found in mint plants, such as peppermint and spearmint.  Menthol provides a cooling sensation and is often used to relieve minor pain and irritation and to prevent infection.7
  • Common brands of menthol cigarettes include Kool, Newport, and Salem.7
  • Many smokers believe menthol cigarettes are less harmful than non-menthol cigarettes, but there is no evidence to support this belief.7
  • Approximately 11 million people smoke menthol cigarettes.7
  • 31% of young adult smokers smoke menthol cigarettes.7
  • African-Americans smoke menthol cigarettes at the highest rate. Almost 70% of African-American smokers smoke menthol cigarettes.7
  • The tobacco industry has historically targeted menthol cigarettes to women, African-Americans, youth, and Asian-Americans.  In order to appeal to these groups, the tobacco industry has used messages such as “healthy/medicinal”, “fresh/refreshing”, and “youthful/fun”.8

Smoking Cessation


  1. Kids Live Smoke Free. Tobacco contains over 4,000 chemicals: Know the facts! Retrieved October 11, 2012 from
  2. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Results from the 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Summary of national findings.
  3. American Cancer Society. Cigarette smoking. Retrieved October 11, 2012 from
  4. James, R. & Olstad, S. (2009). Cigarette advertising. TIME Magazine. Retrieved October 23, 2012 from,9171,1905530,00.html
  5. United States Public Health Service. Marketing cigarettes to women. Retrieved October 11, 2012 from
  6. Food and Drug Administration. Overview of the family smoking prevention and tobacco control act: Consumer fact sheet. Retrieved October 23, 2012 from
  7. Sutton, C. & Robinson, R. (2004). The marketing of menthol cigarettes in the United States: Populations, messages, and channels. Nicotine & Tobacco Research, 6(1): 83-91.
  8. Answers about menthol. Retrieved October 23, 2012 from
  9. Jamal, A., Phillips, E., Gentzke, A., Homa, D., Babb, S., King, B., Neff, L. (2018). Current Cigarette Smoking Among Adults - United States, 2016. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 67(2); 53-59.