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Smoking; A known cause and complicating factor in diabetes

(New Hanover County, N.C.) - March 25, 2014 is Diabetes Alert Day. This day has been set aside to remind people to be tested for diabetes. If you are at risk for type 2 diabetes, take the first step to make lifestyle changes to improve your health with NDEP’s Just One Step online tool ( You can also call 1-888-693-NDEP (6337) for more information on preventing type 2 diabetes.

The U.S. Surgeon General’s office recently announced that new evidence proves that cigarette smoking not only complicates the health of those with diabetes, but is a known cause of the disease. Smoking increases a person’s chance of developing type 2 diabetes, and makes both types of diabetes harder to control.

“The Surgeon General’s Report has given us surprising new information that is important for all smokers,” said Joshua Swift, Deputy Health Director for New Hanover County. “Obesity is only one cause of the type 2 diabetes epidemic; smoking plays a role as well.”

Smoking and use of other tobacco products can interfere with how insulin works in the body. Tobacco users are more likely to develop insulin resistance, which can lead to diabetes.

A smoker with diabetes is more likely to have serious health problems or complications from diabetes, including:

  • Heart and kidney disease;
  • Poor blood flow in the legs and feet that can lead to foot infections, ulcers, and possible amputation (removal of a body part by surgery, such as toes or feet);
  • Retinopathy (an eye disease that can cause blindness); and
  • Peripheral neuropathy (damaged nerves to the arms and legs that cause numbness, pain, weakness, and poor coordination).

The health benefits from quitting tobacco begin right away. People with diabetes or who are developing diabetes gain better control of their blood sugar levels once they quit tobacco. Insulin resistance can start to decrease eight weeks after quitting.

QuitlineNC, North Carolina’s free telephone and online tobacco use cessation service, is available at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) 24 hours a day, to help any tobacco user develop a personal plan to quit. The support QuitlineNC provides can more than triple a quitter’s chances of being successful.

To take the Diabetes Risk Test visit

For more information on QuitlineNC visit

For Bill’s story visit:

New Hanover County Tobacco Prevention Program: call 910-798-6658