image of man adversely affected by tobacco use in front of his family

Each year, in the United States alone, there are 480,000 deaths due to tobacco-related illness. This is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the impact of tobacco use in our country. For each death caused by tobacco, there are at least 5 people living with a serious tobacco related illness.  Tobacco use is the number one preventable cause of death and leads to disease and disability.

Tobacco can lead to many different cancers and chronic health issues throughout the body. In fact, tobacco harms nearly every organ system of the body, from the top of the head all the way down to the tip of the toes. Some of these cancer and chronic conditions include:

  • Asthma
  • Buerger’s Disease
  • Lung Cancer
  • Oral Cancer
  • Popcorn Lung
  • Pneumonia
  • Emphysema
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
  • Diabetes
  • Gum (Periodontal) Disease
  • Heart Disease
  • Stroke
  • Reduced fertility
  • Vision Loss and Blindness
  • Osteoporosis
  • Poor Wound Healing
  • Secondhand Smoke
  • Higher Risk for COVID-19
  • And More


The good news is that it is never too late to quit using tobacco. Quitting tobacco reduces the risk of tobacco-related diseases in the future, slows the progression of existing tobacco-related disease, and improves life expectancy by an average of 10 years. When a tobacco user quits, the body starts to get healthier almost immediately.


Help to quit is free! Gulfcoast South Area Health Education Center (GSAHEC), as part of the Tobacco Free Florida AHEC Cessation Program — offers free tobacco cessation sessions that are available to help someone quit all forms of tobacco.  These group cessation sessions, held virtually and in-person, provide information about the effects of tobacco use, the benefits of quitting, and will assist you with developing your own customized quit plan. Free nicotine replacement therapy in the form of patches, gum or lozenges (if medically appropriate and while supplies last) are provided with the session. Attendees will also receive a participant workbook, quit kit materials, and follow up support from a trained tobacco treatment specialist. Contact us today at 866-534-7909 or visit our page to schedule a class or learn more about the program!



Tools to Quit: Area Health Education Center (AHEC) Cessation Program Participant Toolkit. Area Health Education Centers. 2018.