Exposure to tobacco smoke – even occasional smoking or secondhand smoke – causes immediate damage to your body that can lead to serious illness or death, according to a report released December 9, 2010 by U.S. Surgeon General Regina M. Benjamin.
The comprehensive scientific report - Benjamin’s first Surgeon General’s report and the 30th tobacco-related Surgeon General’s report issued since 1964 - describes specific pathways by which tobacco smoke damages the human body and leads to disease and death.
The report, How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease: The Biology and Behavioral Basis for Smoking-Attributable Disease (pdf), finds that cellular damage and tissue inflammation from tobacco smoke are immediate, and that repeated exposure weakens the body’s ability to heal the damage.
“The chemicals in tobacco smoke reach your lungs quickly every time you inhale causing damage immediately,” Benjamin said in releasing the report. “Inhaling even the smallest amount of tobacco smoke can also damage your DNA, which can lead to cancer.”