Tobacco is a green, leafy plant that is grown in warm climates. After it is picked, it is dried, ground up, and used in different ways. A “tobacco product” means any product made or derived from tobacco that is intended for human consumption, including any component, part, or accessory of a tobacco product. This includes, among other products, cigarettes, cigarette tobacco, roll-your-own tobacco, and smokeless tobacco.

Nicotine is one of the more than 4,000 chemicals in cigarettes and its smoke. It is the chemical that makes tobacco addictive or habit forming. Once we smoke, chew, or sniff tobacco, nicotine goes into our bloodstream, and our body wants more. The nicotine in tobacco makes it a drug. This means that when we use tobacco, it changes our body in some way. Because nicotine is a stimulant, it speeds up the nervous system, so we feel like we have more energy. It also makes the heart beat faster and raises blood pressure.


Smokers are more likely than nonsmokers to develop heart disease, stroke, and lung cancer.

Smoking is estimated to increase the risk:

  • For coronary heart disease by 2 to 4 times
  • For stroke by 2 to 4 times
  • Of men developing lung cancer by 25 times
  • Of women developing lung cancer by 25.7 times

Smoking causes diminished overall heath, such as self-reported poor health, increased absenteeism from work, and increased health care utilization and cost.

Smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States.Cigarette smoking causes more than 480,000 deaths each year in the United States. This is about one in five deaths. More than 28,000 New Yorkers die from their own tobacco use each year.

Smoking causes more deaths each year than all of these combined:

  • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
  • Illegal drug use
  • Alcohol use
  • Motor vehicle injuries
  • Firearm-related incidents


  • Secondhand smoke is a mixture of gases and fine particles
  • Smoke from a burning tobacco product such as a cigarette, cigar, or pipe
  • Smoke that has been exhaled or breathed out by the person or people smoking
  • More than 7,000 chemicals, including hundreds that are toxic and about 70 that can cause cancer

Most exposure to secondhand smoke occurs in homes and workplaces. New York State passed the Clean Indoor Act in 2003, smoking is prohibited in the following places:

  • Places of employment
  • Bars
  • Restaurants
  • Enclosed indoor swimming areas
  • Public transportation, including all ticketing, boarding and waiting areas, buses, vans, taxicabs and limousines
  • All places of employment where services are offered to children
  • All schools, including school grounds
  • All public and private colleges, universities and other educational and vocational institutions
  • General hospitals
  • Residential health-care facilities, except serparately designated smoking rooms for adult patients
  • Commercial establishments used for the purpose of carrying on or exercising any trade, profession, vocation or charitable activity
  • All indoor areas
  • Zoos
  • Bingo facilities

Eliminating smoking in indoor spaces is the only way to fully protect nonsmokers from secondhand smoke exposure. Separating smokers from nonsmokers within the same air space, cleaning the air, opening windows, and ventilating buildings does not eliminate secondhand smoke exposure.

Since 1964, 2.5 million nonsmokers have died from exposure to secondhand smoke.