Smoking increases the risk of serious diseases such as lung cancer, respiratory disease and heart disease, and for many people, smoking is difficult to quit.
Over many years, epidemiological studies have consistently reported a much higher incidence of certain diseases among smokers compared with non-smokers. The studies also report that the risks are reduced after quitting and that quitting earlier has by far the best effect on reducing risks.
Traditionally, epidemiology has been used to identify associations that point to possible causes of a disease, providing direction for thorough laboratory investigations. Studies leave no doubt that smoking is a cause of serious diseases, including lung cancer, emphysema, chronic bronchitis and heart diseases.
With that understanding, scientists to date, have not been able to determine which smokers will get a smoking-related disease and which will not. Nor can it be determined whether any individual became ill solely because they smoked. This is, in part, because all the diseases that have been associated with smoking also occur in life-long non-smokers.
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