Smoking and Cancer

Smoking causes many different cancers, including cancer of the lung, throat, mouth, nasal cavity, esophagus, stomach, pancreas, kidney, bladder, and cervix, and acute myeloid leukemia.

Lung cancer is by far the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women in the United States and Louisiana, and cigarette smoking causes almost all cases (about 90% of lung cancer deaths in men and almost 80% in women). Compared to nonsmokers, men who smoke are about 23 times more likely to develop lung cancer and women who smoke are about 13 times more likely.1

In Louisiana, cancer is the second most common cause of death, following closely to heart disease (heart disease causes a quarter of all deaths in Louisiana and cancer causes 23%). About 30% of these cancers deaths are due to lung cancer.2

Secondhand Smoke

Secondhand smoke is the combination of smoke from the cigarette and smoke breathed out by the smoker. When a person smokes near you, you breathe secondhand smoke. There is no safe amount of secondhand smoke - breathing even a little can be dangerous. Separate “no smoking” sections, filtering the air or opening a window DOES NOT protect you from secondhand smoke.

Secondhand smoke causes lung cancer in adults who don’t smoke. Breathing in secondhand smoke at home or work increases your chances of getting lung cancer by 20% - 30%.3

The Good News

Quitting smoking has major and immediate health benefits for men and women of all ages. These benefits apply to people who already have smoking-related diseases and those who don’t.4 For smoking-attributable cancers, the risk generally decreases after quitting completely,1 and it’s been proven ex-smokers live longer than people who keep smoking.4

Through advocacy and policy efforts, the Louisiana Smoke-Free Air Act (Act No. 815) was passed January 1, 2007 prohibiting smoking in most public places and workplaces, including all restaurants with or without attached bars (smoking is still allowed in stand-alone bars and casinos). Further, Louisiana’s partial preemption of local smoke-free air ordinances was repealed and replaced by a specific non-preemption clause. This means local communities are now free to strengthen the Act with stricter local ordinances that could include bars and casinos.

There is Help

For help with quitting smoking or using other tobacco products, visit, and call the helpline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669). The website offers online support and tools along with a variety of resources that can aid smokers in quitting. The helpline will allow callers’ access to a quit coach 24/7 to assist in quitting and staying quit.

The smoking Cessation Trust is available to Louisiana residents whom began smoking before September 1st 1988. If eligible they will receive free cessation medication (patches, gum or lozenge) along with individual/group counseling at no cost them. If interested in becoming a member apply here at

Click here for a list of resources to help you quit tobacco. 

(1. The Health Consequences of Smoking: A Report of the Surgeon General—Smoking Among Adults in the United States: Cancer. National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2004.
(2. Deaths: Final Data for 2010. Vol 61, Number 4. Page 141-142.
(3. The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke: A Report of the Surgeon General - Secondhand Smoke: What It Means To You. National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2006.
(4. American Cancer Society. Why Should I Quit?