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Diabetes and Tobacco use: A Harmful Combination
July 2003

Tobacco is harmful to health and is of particular danger to people with diabetes. All late complications of diabetes such as cardiovascular disease, foot problems, kidney and eye disease are worsened by smoking. Smoking cessation has immediate positive effects, however it is made difficult by tobacco dependence and by all forms of advertising and promotion used by the tobacco industry.

IDF’s position is that Tobacco use is harmful to health, and of particular danger to people with diabetes. There is growing evidence that cigarette smokers are more prone to developing type 2 diabetes than the rest of the population. Smoking is associated with insulin resistance. While smoking, insulin absorption from subcutaneous tissue is delayed. In insulin treatment, smoking after meals will therefore be particularly untimely.

When diabetes is already present, smoking increases the incidence, mortality and morbidity from cardio and cerebrovascular complications (myocardial infarction and stroke), diabetic foot problems, diabetic eye disease and diabetic kidney disease. Studies show that smoking shortens life on an average by 5 to 10 years, however this could be even more in people with diabetes. The importance of passive smoking for health has been emphasized, particularly for children.

Although smoking cessation has immediate positive effects and reduces the risks of cardio and cerebrovascular disease even more than the risk of cancer, smoking cessation is made difficult by a number of factors. It is important to remember that the enemy is the tobacco industry and salesmen, not the individual smoker.

IDF recommends that References:
WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, WHO, May 2003.
• Haire-Joshu D, Glasgow RE, Tibbs TL. Smoking and Diabetes. Diabetes Care 1999, 22 :1887-98.

Source: International Diabetes Federation