More ways smoking ruins your health

Report spells big trouble for eyes, bones — even love life — especially for Kentuckians

For the 15th year, the American Lung Association’s “State of Tobacco Control” report card has graded how each state is doing at tobacco prevention programs, helping smokers quit and protecting people from secondhand smoke. For the 15th year, Kentucky has again earned all F’s.

This is no surprise. Kentucky consistently leads the nation in smoking and tobacco use (nearly 31 percent of our adults and 36 percent of our high school age youth smoke or use tobacco products). In addition to killing 8,860 people a year in Kentucky and costing us more $1.9 billion, this addictive habit helps make us the nation’s leader in lung cancer.

Beyond wrecking your lungs by filling them with the equivalent of tail pipe exhaust, smoking harms your health in surprising ways you may have never imagined. This year’s tobacco report card included a “worst of the worst” list that highlights health consequences you may be shocked to learn about.


Smoking is hard on your peepers. Smoking increases your risk of age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in adults over age 65.

Type 2 diabetes

Smoking contributes to Type 2 diabetes and increases the risk of complications, including poor blood flow to the legs and feet. Without proper care, this can lead to infection and ultimately limb amputation.
Erectile dysfunction

Male sexual function is affected by smoking. Tobacco use causes blood vessels all over the body to narrow, including those that supply blood to … well, need we spell it out? The good news is that quitting will make a big difference.

Ectopic pregnancy

Ectopic pregnancy is a life-threatening reproductive complication seen more often among women who smoke. It occurs when a fertilized egg implants somewhere other than the uterus. The egg can’t survive and it puts the woman’s life at serious risk.

Hip fractures

Smokers lose bone density at a faster rate than nonsmokers, which ups the risk for breaking bones like your hip. Want to break a sweat, not your bones, on the dance floor? Snuff out those cigarettes.

Colorectal cancer

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. Any guesses on a bad habit linked to developing and dying from this type of cancer? You guessed it: smoking.

Rheumatoid arthritis

RA is a chronic inflammatory disease more common in women than men. It affects the joints in your hands and feet, and causes painful swelling that can lead to bone loss and joint deformity. Smoking can cause early-onset RA.

Fertility issues

Moms-to-be take note. Smoking can affect your ability to conceive. It causes reduced fertility in women and can contribute to various problems during pregnancy.

Gum disease

Smoking raises the risk of losing your teeth. It contributes to periodontitis, a gum infection that destroys the bone that supports your teeth and is a major cause of adult tooth loss.

In ways both obvious and surprising, tobacco use takes a hefty toll on health. Many good resources are available to help lessen this toll. One of these is a series of seven-week Freedom From Smoking group classes. Nicotine replacement resources are offered through the classes. One-on-one counseling also is available on a limited basis.

These classes are provided for free through Norton Cancer Institute’s Comprehensive Lung Center. This multidisciplinary clinic focuses on meeting patients’ needs by bringing together prevention, screening, diagnosis and treatment.


Are you, or someone you love, ready to be free from smoking?

Find out more about the Freedom From Smoking program or call (502) 629-1234 for upcoming session dates.

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