Risks from Underage Tobacco Use

Teen boy running, playing basketballDangers of Tobacco Use

Smoking is the leading cause of premature, preventable death and disease in the United States.1

Short-Term Effects

Some of the short-term effects of smoking include:

  • Addiction to nicotine and exposure to dangerous chemicals
  • More breathing problems
  • Shortness of breath, phlegm, and a coarse cough
  • Impaired lung growth and function
  • Bad breath, yellow teeth, and stained fingers
  • Foul-smelling clothes and hair2

Long-Term Risks

Additional long-term risks of smoking include:

  • Addiction to nicotine and exposure to dangerous chemicals
  • Lung, mouth, throat, kidney, and stomach cancers
  • Heart disease
  • Impaired immune systems
  • Emphysema and other chronic diseases
  • Shorter lifespan (up to 20 years shorter)3

Other Smokeless Tobacco Risks

Health risks of smokeless tobacco use include:

  • Oral cancer and gum recession
  • Gum disease
  • Tooth decay
  • Nicotine addiction
  • Increased likelihood of becoming a smoker.4

Next Steps

  • Take the quiz to examine the ways you address alcohol and tobacco use in your family.
  • Learn about the different forms of tobacco that teens may try or use.

Research Sources

1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2014). The health consequences of smoking—50 years of progress. A report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health.

2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2012). Preventing tobacco use among youth and young adults: A report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health.

3. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2014). The health consequences of smoking—50 years of progress. A report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health.

4. National Institute on Drug Abuse (2014). Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes). Drug Facts. Washington, DC: U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health.