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Dr. Kevin Faber, Fargo, Published June 21 2012

Smoking linked to cancer, stroke

May was National Stroke Awareness Month. I want to remind people about the dangerous connection between cigarette smoke and stroke.

Everyone is well aware by now that smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke are leading causes of cancer and other chronic diseases, but few are familiar with the causal link to stroke.

When people smoke, or are exposed to secondhand smoke, their blood thickens and becomes more likely to clot. Thicker blood also causes increased plaque buildup in arteries and blood vessels, which can cause or worsen the effects of a stroke. People who smoke cigarettes are twice as likely to have a stroke, and exposure to secondhand smoke increases nonsmokers’ chances of a stroke.

Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in the country. This is exactly why we need more comprehensive smoke-free ordinances that protect everyone from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke.

It was recently announced that Cavalier, N.D., passed a citywide smoke-free ordinance, making it the eighth North Dakota city to ban smoking in all indoor public workplaces. That’s another step in the right direction, but more needs to be done so that everyone can breathe clean air and enjoy reduced risks of stroke, cancer and other chronic diseases.

We need to continue to fund North Dakota’s comprehensive tobacco prevention program as they work with local public health units across the state to implement comprehensive smoke-free ordinances that protect the lives of North Dakotans everywhere. We all deserve to breathe clean air.


Faber is neurologist/sleep specialist, medical director of Stroke Program, Sanford Medical Center.