Great American Smoke Out® 2021

Woman quitting smoking

The Great American Smoke Out® 2021:
Kick the Habit for Better Health

Cigarette smoking remains the leading cause of preventable disease, disability and death in the U.S., accounting for more than 480,000 deaths every year, or about 1 in 5 deaths overall.

Smoking directly causes many health risks to smokers, including:

  • high blood pressure
  • arteriosclerosis
  • heart disease
  • and lung cancer, among others.

According to the American Lung Association (ALA), 16 million-plus Americans live with a smoking-related disease.

What’s more, smoking endangers the health of all members of a smoker’s household. Second-hand smoke especially endangers the health of young children and babies, including those in utero, plus all living within your household.

Smoking and tobacco product use pose serious risk of early death and disease, especially for women. Annually, cigarette smoking kills an estimated 202,000 U.S. women, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC.)

The Great American Smoke Out® on November 18 encourages the 34 million-plus smokers across the country to kick their smoking habit for the day, in hope to begin the path toward living a healthier, smoke-free life. Of the 34 million-plus U.S. smokers, 20 million-plus are girls and women. When you become smoke-free, your body begins healing immediately.

Your Capital Women’s Care team shares statistics about health dangers of smoking and how it increases risks of other health issues to those women who smoke; smoking’s health hazards and effects on women, as well as its lasting effects and health implications on young children and babies; tips on quitting smoking; and information about the Great American Smoke Out you can use as a stepping-stone toward achieving a healthier and ultimately 100% smoke-free life – for both you and your family.

Statistics: Women & Smoking

In 2016, the CDC states 13.5% of U.S. women smoked, compared to 17.5% of men. Today, a much smaller gap exists between men's and women's smoking rates than those of previous years, with alarming numbers of ever-increasing smoking-related disease and death risks growing among U.S. women.

Some alarming statistics concerning women and smoking:

  • While the CDC reports smoking has declined from 20.9% in 2005 to 14% in 2019, teen girls and pregnant women ages 20 through 24 years account for 10.7% of young adult smokers. Prevalence of smoking during pregnancy by women in other age brackets (8.5% in those women ages 15 through 19 years and 8.2% of women ages 25 through 29 years) attests to the continuing health issues smoking causes women, their unborn babies and young children, and others within their households.
  • Smoking is directly responsible for 80% of lung cancer deaths in women in the U.S. each year. In 2014, an estimated 70,700 women died of lung and bronchus cancer. In 1987, lung cancer surpassed breast cancer as the leading cause of cancer deaths among women in the U.S. From 1959 to 2010, the risk of developing lung cancer increased tenfold for women.
  • Female smokers are nearly 22 times more likely to die from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis, compared to women who never have smoked. Women who smoke may develop more severe COPD earlier in life.
  • Women who smoke also have an increased risk for developing cancers of the oral cavity, pharynx, larynx (voice box), esophagus, pancreas, kidney, bladder and uterine cervix.
  • Women who smoke double their risk for coronary heart disease.

Smoking’s Impact on Women’s Health

Smoking is directly linked to many women’s health issues, some of which surface immediately while others present later in life.

Smoking leads to disease and disability and harms nearly every organ and body system. Women who smoke experience:

  • Reproductive issues. Painful periods, mood swings, vaginal dryness, early menopause, and difficulties conceiving.
  • Pregnancy issues. Greater risks for baby to develop serious birth defects, have low birth weight, and increased risk of death through sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
  • Pregnancy complications. Smoking while pregnant increases risks to both mother and baby, including miscarriage, placental abruption or placenta previa, preeclampsia and preterm birth, which can lead to developmental and further health issues for babies.
  • Respiratory issues. Women smokers have greater risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), with increased risk of severe COPD at younger ages and death than male smokers.
  • Cardiovascular issues. Women smokers face increased heart disease risk, with those cases occurring before age 50 years directly caused by smoking, and fatal abdominal aortic aneurysm. Heart disease is the number one cause of death in both U.S. men and women.
  • Cancer risks. Increased risk of cervical cancer and greater risk of death from lung cancer. Lung cancers among women ages 30 to 49 years are more prevalent than men within the same age range. Other increased cancer risks include pancreatic, kidney, liver, throat, bladder and colorectal cancers.
  • Bone issues. Postmenopausal women who smoke have lower bone density than women who never smoked. Women who smoke have an increased risk for hip fracture compared to nonsmokers.
  • Skin issues. Cigarette smoking also causes skin wrinkling which could make smokers appear prematurely older.

Smoking’s Impact on Babies & Children

Smoking not only endangers the health of women who smoke, but also endangers the health of their babies and children.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend pregnant or breastfeeding women quit smoking, as chemicals (including nicotine, toxicants, flavorings and additives from both tobacco and e-cigarettes) can be passed from the mother to infant via breastmilk.

Mothers should eliminate baby’s exposure to smoke through these recommendations:

  • Do not allow smoking near your baby.
  • Avoid places where smoking is prevalent.
  • Enforce smoke-free rules in your home and vehicles.
  • Make smokers wash hands and change their clothes after smoking before handling your baby.

Second-hand smoke (SHS) is just as harmful as smoking, especially to babies and young children. Second-hand smoke has 50+ chemicals proven to cause cancer in adults. Babies and young children are still growing, making second-hand smoke especially harmful to their health. Breathing second-hand smoke for even a short time can harm your baby or child’s health. Should exposure to second-hand smoke continue, it can cause disease and possibly even death in children. The bottom line is there is no safe amount of second-hand smoke.

Babies and young children exposed to second-hand smoke have increased risk of:

  • sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
  • low birth weight
  • weak lungs
  • more sickness during childhood
  • asthma
  • chronic lung problems
  • ear infections
  • more coughs and chest colds
  • bronchitis
  • pneumonia
  • and becoming smokers themselves as adults.

Tips for Quitting Smoking

Quitting smoking offers many benefits, with healing beginning within 20 minutes of quitting as nicotine leaves your body. Quitting smoking makes a lasting impact on your wellbeing and empowers you with a sense of accomplishment toward achieving a healthier, longer life -- for both you and your family.

The best plan for quitting combines physician-approved prescribed or over-the-counter medicine or therapy, a method to change your personal habits and consistent support from loved ones and friends.

To increase your success, consider incorporating telephone counseling services offering success strategies and support, help and accountability from informed family and friends knowing your intention to quit smoking, use of self-help materials to plan and accomplish smoking cessation, or even implement tobacco cessation medicines and therapies to boost your success. Your Capital Women’s Care team of professionals can help you devise a personal cessation smoking plan that meets your individual needs.

People wishing to quit smoking do so in different ways. Some may quit immediately, while others need to cut back to quit gradually. Some do better with distractions to eliminate answering cravings and others do best with medicine therapies. No matter how you approach quitting smoking, the Great American Smoke Out is the perfect occasion to take the first step toward improving your health.

Your Capital Women’s Care team is here to help and guide you should you have any questions about quitting smoking or any women’s health issue. Our caring, professional staff will work with you to develop and implement a smoking cessation strategy to help you achieve a healthier, longer and smoke-free life.

Resources to guide you to become smoke-free:

Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW for free support


Our Mission

The providers of Capital Women's Care seek the highest quality medical and ethical standard in an environment that nurtures the spirit of caring for every woman.


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