Know the Risks

Here’s the bottom line: There is no such thing as a “safe” or “safer” tobacco product.

The truth is, whether it’s smoked, dipped, or rolled, any form of tobacco is harmful. All tobacco products contain nicotine, which is addictive and can harm your developing brain. And all tobacco products have serious health consequences. Learn more about the risks of using tobacco products.


Cigarettes typically consist of tobacco, chemical additives, a filter, and paper wrapping. The smoke inhaled from a burning cigarette contains a mix of over 7,000 harmful chemicals. More than 70 of these chemicals are linked to cancer. There is no evidence that cigarettes advertised as “organic,” “all-natural,” or “additive-free” are any safer or less harmful than other cigarettes. Cigarette smoking harms nearly every organ of the body and causes many diseases, including heart disease, stroke, and lung cancer.

Learn more about the risks of cigarette smoking, and check out the SmokefreeTXT and the quitSTART app to get help with quitting.

Smokeless Tobacco

Smokeless tobacco is tobacco that is not burned. There are many types of smokeless tobacco, including chewing tobacco, oral tobacco, spit or spitting tobacco, dip, chew, and snuff. Smokeless tobacco has high levels of toxic chemicals and other substances that can cause cancer. People who use smokeless tobacco have a high risk of mouth and throat cancer.

Learn more about the risks of smokeless tobacco and use the DipfreeTXT program to help you quit.

You're more likely to smoke if your parents or older siblings smoke.


Hookah tobacco is usually flavored, and is smoked in a hookah water pipe. It is also known as shisha, maassel, narghile, argileh, hubble-bubble, and goza. The fact that hookah smoke passes through water doesn’t mean that hookah is safer to use. Hookah smoking has many of the same health risks as cigarette smoking. The smoke from a hookah has high levels of carbon monoxide and chemicals that can cause lung, bladder, and mouth cancer.

Learn more about the risks of hookah smoking.


E-cigarettes are also called e-cigs, vape pens, mods and pod mods (which often look like USB drives). These devices heat a liquid into an aerosol that’s inhaled by the user. The aerosol from e-cigarettes is not just harmless water vapor. It contains a mix of potentially harmful chemicals that are not safe to breathe. Most e-cigarettes also contain nicotine.  Nicotine is very addictive and can harm brain development, which continues past adolescence into the mid-20s.

Learn more about the risks of using e-cigarettes.

Cigars and Cigarillos

A cigar is a roll of tobacco wrapped in leaf tobacco or any substance containing tobacco that is not a cigarette. Cigars vary in size—from smaller cigars, such as little filtered cigars or cigarillos, to larger ones, such as large premium cigars. Cigar smoke and cigarette smoke contain similar types of harmful and cancer-causing substances. Cigar users can be exposed to nicotine without fully inhaling. It can be absorbed through fingers and lips. Compared to cigarette tobacco, cigar tobacco contains increased levels of some cancer-causing chemicals.

Learn more about the risks of cigars and cigarillos.

Teens who are exposed to nicotine are at higher risk for mood disorders, like depression.

Using Multiple Tobacco Products

Using multiple tobacco products means more exposure to harmful chemicals, causing greater risks to the lungs, respiratory organs, and the cardiovascular system. Combining tobacco products also increases the amount of nicotine in your body, which can make you more dependent on nicotine, and make it harder to quit using tobacco.

Tobacco Mixed with Marijuana

When you use tobacco and marijuana together, you expose yourself to greater amounts of harmful chemicals. Combining these two substances can lead to greater health issues than if you used either one alone. Using tobacco and marijuana together can also increase the risk of becoming addicted to either substance, and make it harder to quit.

Learn more about the health risks of marijuana.

More For You

Your social life can have an impact on the decisions you make, like using tobacco. Learn how you can quit smoking and still be social.
Quitting can be tough, even if you don’t smoke every day. Make a plan for quitting, and learn how you can prepare for tough moments.
Nicotine exposure during teen years can cause addiction and harm brain development. Learn more about why nicotine is dangerous for teens.
Being a teen can be stressful. Tobacco use is not a healthy way to help you deal with stress and bad moods. Learn how to manage stress in a healthy way.