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Taking Our Own Best Advice: A Tobacco-Free NIH

Benefits of the Tobacco-Free NIH

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A tobacco-free NIH protects the health of nonsmoking employees while providing an environment conducive to tobacco users who are working to either quit or cut back on their use of tobacco. A tobacco-free NIH is expected to have a substantially greater effect on tobacco consumption than current policies that permit smoking in designated areas. The benefits of the Tobacco-Free HHS are diverse and include:

  • Increased productivity
  • Decreased absenteeism
  • Lower costs of medical expenditures associated with tobacco use
  • Lower consumption rates among non-quitters
  • Improved success in long-range tobacco cessation
  • Increased cost savings for employers, including costs associated with the risk of fire, property damage, maintenance, and employee benefits (Worker's Compensation, Disability, Retirement, Injury, and Insurance)

The Risks of Tobacco Use and Secondhand Smoke

Tobacco use remains the leading preventable cause of death in the U.S.

Each year in the U.S., approximately 440,000 people die of an illness caused by smoking cigarettes.

More than 8.6 million Americans currently suffer from at least one serious illness caused by smoking.

In 2006, about one in five (45.3 million) adult Americans smoked cigarettes. By 12th grade, about half of all students have tried smoking and one in five (20.0%) are current smokers.

All tobacco products are harmful. Smokeless tobacco (chewing tobacco, snus, and snuff) is addictive, contains dozens of cancer-causing agents, and may cause oral cancer and other diseases.

Exposure to secondhand smoke causes premature death and disease in children and adults who do not smoke:

  1. Secondhand smoke is a known human carcinogen (cancer-causing agent); it contains more than 50 chemicals that can cause cancer. Secondhand smoke causes lung cancer in people who have never smoked themselves.
  2. Secondhand smoke causes heart disease. Even brief exposure can have immediate adverse effects on the cardiovascular system, interfering with the normal functioning of the heart, blood, and cardiovascular systems in ways that increase the risk of heart attack.
  3. Secondhand smoke causes acute respiratory effects. Even brief exposure can trigger respiratory symptoms including cough, phlegm, wheezing, and breathlessness, and can trigger an asthma attack in children with asthma.
  4. Secondhand smoke can cause sudden infant death syndrome and other health consequences in infants and children.
  5. Separating smokers from nonsmokers, cleaning the air, and ventilating buildings cannot eliminate nonsmokers' exposure to secondhand smoke.

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Coordinating Center for Health Promotion, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking

This page last reviewed on April 16, 2013

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