Surgeon general: Not even one cigarette is okay

Posted by Rachel Folz - email

(NBC) - New information from the surgeon general indicates even one cigarette could have devastating results on your health.

Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin released what many consider the most definitive report ever on the dangers of cigarettes Thursday.

"The message from this report for Americans is simple. There is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke," said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

The new data indicates tobacco smoke is filled with more than 7,000 chemicals, hundreds of those considered toxic and at least 70 known to cause cancer.

"Inhaling these compounds and these chemicals in tobacco smoke causes immediate damage, and long term damage, which can lead to disease and to death," warned Dr. Benjamin.

Ezekiel Troyon understands the harsh reality of what cigarettes can do.

"I started smoking when I was 13-years-old, smoked a pack to a pack and a half till I was 19," he says.

He quit a year ago, after seeing his grandfather fall victim to a lifetime addiction.

Smoking is the number one cause of preventable deaths in the U.S., claiming around 1,200 lives every day.

"If you're a smoker, the best time to quit is right now," Secretary Sebelius said.

To drive that point home, the Food and Drug Administration will require tobacco companies to include larger more graphic warnings on cigarette labels starting in 2012.

Doctors were also quick to point out that those who stopped using cigarettes did show signs of reversing some of the health problems associated with smoking and stressed that the sooner they quit, the better for their health.