Secondhand Smoke and Diabetes

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Tobacco smoking increases the risk of developing diabetes

  • Cigarette smoking is an established risk factor for type 2 diabetes mellitus. Tobacco use and tobacco smoke are toxic to the pancreas.1,2 If the pancreas is damaged, insulin production may be affected. The pancreas is responsible for making insulin.
  • Smoking cessation may result in weight gain, which could increase the risk for diabetes.1 However, the health benefits of smoking cessation far outweigh the risk of short-term weight gain from quitting.
  • For smokers at risk for diabetes, smoking cessation should be coupled with strategies for diabetes prevention and early detection.1
  • The association between tobacco smoking and diabetes is greatest among Caucasian men and women.2

Secondhand smoke exposure increases the risk of developing diabetes

  • Secondhand smoke contains toxins similar to what smokers inhale but exposure is at different temperatures and conditions. Some toxic substances are found in higher concentrations in passive, or secondhand smoke.2
  • The greater the exposure to smoking and secondhand smoke, the greater the risk for developing diabetes.2
  • Both active and passive smoking are associated with the body not efficiently using glucose (or blood sugar) in young adulthood.2

Smoke-free laws and diabetes

  • Eliminating smoking in indoor spaces fully protects nonsmokers from exposure to secondhand smoke. Separating smokers from nonsmokers, cleaning the air, and ventilating buildings cannot eliminate exposure to secondhand smoke.3
  • Legislation that eliminates public smoking will reduce the burden of diabetes, a very serious illness which takes a heavy toll on individuals and the healthcare system.

  1. Yeh HC, Duncan BB, Schmidt MI, Wang, NY, Brancati FL. Smoking, Smoking Cessation, and Risk for Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: A Cohort Study. Annals of Internal Medicine. 2010; 152 (1): 10-17.
  2. Houston TK, Person SD, Pletcher MJ, Liu K, Iribarren C, Kiefe CI. Active and passive smoking and the development of glucose intolerance among young adults in a prospective cohort: CARDIA study. BMJ. 2006;332:1064-1069.
  3. 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: Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease and Prevention and Promotion, Office of Smoking and Health;2006.