The health effects of tobacco smoking refers to direct tobacco smoking as well as the inhalation of environmental or secondhand tobacco smoke. The WHO in the 2002 World Health Repor estimates that in developed countries, 26% of male deaths and 9% of female deaths can be attributed to smoking. Similarly, the United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describes tobacco use as “the single most important preventable risk to human health in developed countries and an important cause of premature death worldwide”. In 2003, United States Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona stated that he would support the abolition of all tobacco products.
It is generally accepted among the general public that smoking can have devastating effects on the cardiovascular system and other important organs in the body, though the effects on the oral cavity are generally underestimated. Perhaps the most serious oral condition that can arise from tobacco smoking is that of oral cancer. However, smoking also increases the risk for various other oral diseases, some of which are almost completely exclusive to smokers.
Smoking has been proven to be an important factor in the staining of teeth. Halitosis is common among tobacco smokers. Other oral diseases that are known to have strong links to smoking are leukoplakia, Snuff Dipper’s lesions and smoker’s palate. Currently, there is growing evidence that tobacco greatly increases the risk of periodontal diseases, which includes bone and tooth loss. In addition, many smokers report a loss of taste sensation and/or salivary changes.