Tobacco smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer. It also causes heart disease, stroke, lung diseases (including emphysema), blindness, stomach ulcers and many other conditions. It has been estimated that one in nine new cancers and one in five cancer deaths occur in Australia each year as a result of smoking (5) .
The 2004 report of the US Surgeon General, The Health Consequences of Smoking, published the following four major conclusions:
1. Smoking harms nearly every organ of the body, causing many diseases and reducing the health of smokers in general.
2. Quitting smoking has immediate as well as long-term benefits, reducing risks for diseases caused by smoking and improving health in general.
3. Smoking cigarettes with lower machine-measured yields of tar and nicotine provides no clear benefit to health.
4. The list of diseases caused by smoking has been expanded to include abdominal aortic aneurysm, acute myeloid leukemia, cataract, cervical cancer, kidney cancer, pancreatic cancer, pneumonia, periodontitis and stomach cancer (6).
The Cancer Council ACT’s position is that there is no safe level of smoking and/or risk- free exposure to second hand smoke. Furthermore, Cancer Council ACT identifies quitting smoking as the single most important measure a person can take to protect their health and reduce their risk of cancer – particularly lung cancer.
There is also strong evidence that passive smoking or exposure to second-hand smoke can cause death and disease in otherwise healthy non-smoking children and adults.
Passive smoke causes:
• heart disease
• lung cancer
• irritation of the eyes and nose.
• Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS or cot death)
• lower birth-weight babies (where the mother was exposed to second-hand smoke)
• bronchitis, pneumonia and other lung/airways infections
• asthma exacerbation
• middle ear disease (otitis media or ‘glue ear’)
• respiratory symptoms (e.g. coughing, wheezing).
Cancer Council Australia recommends (7) :
• people avoid tobacco smoke, to eliminate the risk of health problems caused by passive smoking;
• children are protected from second-hand smoke, including in the home and car. The hazard in the
home and car requires greater public education so that everyone recognises the risk to which their
families and others are exposed; and
• all indoor workplaces, public places and popular outdoor venues such as al fresco dining areas, leisure
and cultural settings be completely smoke-free.
Further information on health issues related to smoking can be found at:
 Cancer Council Australia. Smoking. Available from http://www.cancer.org.au/cancersmartlifestyle/smokingandtobacco/Smoking.htm
 US Department of Health and Human Services. The health consequences of smoking. A report of the Surgeon General. Rockville, MD: US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Office of the Surgeon General; 2004. Available from: http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/smokingconsequences/
 Cancer council Australia. Health risks of passive smoke. Available from: http://www.cancer.org.au/File/PolicyPublications/Position_statements/PSPassive_smoking_%20September_2008.pdf