Consequences of tobacco on health

August 2017

The effects of smoking are insidious and become apparent on the body after many years..

A smoker is a smoker regardless of the amount or type of cigarette they smoke. People who smoke in moderation do not necessarily avoid the same smoking-related fatal consequences as heavy smokers. The duration of time a person smokes for is one the principal factors. People who smoke 5 to 10 cigarettes per day over 20 years take as much risk as heavy smokers over the same period.

Cancer: figures worth remembering

  • Tobacco smoking increases the risks of developing a cancer.
  • Tobacco smoking is the number one risk factor for developing cancer, and more than a quarter of all UK cancer deaths are caused from smoking.
  • The carcinogenic smoke and the by-products of smoking settle in most of the body organs, via inhalation through the lungs and or saliva.
  • In particular, the digestive tract, bladder, lungs, tongue, and throat are affected.
  • 50% of cancers of the bladder are tobacco-related.
  • Smoking has caused cancer and killed approximately 6 million people over the last 50 years.
  • Smoking causes around 90% of lung cancer deaths in men and 80% in women in the UK.
  • Important risk factors mainly depend on the number of years a person has smoked for, the amount of cigarettes and how deeply and how long the tobacco smoke is inhaled for. .
  • Smoke from the "mild" or "light"-type cigarettes reach the small airways more deeply causing more severe forms of cancer.

Giving-up smoking decreases the risk of lung cancer. After 10 years of quitting the risk drops to a level that is almost half the risk of a smoker. It is crucial that ex-smokers always remain vigilant about their health and condition of their lungs and any persisting symptoms or problems should immediately see their GP.

Cardiovascular diseases

  • Smoking is one of the main risk factors of cardiovascular diseases such as : heart attacks, high blood pressure, narrowing the arteries and blood supply to the legs, stroke, blood clots and impotence. This are much more likely in a smoker.
  • Smoking contributes to the formation of atheromatous plaques which settle on the walls of the arteries. This can partially, and sometimes completely, block them.
  • This narrowing of the arteries can cause a pain in the chest, called angina pectoris which can lead to a heart attack if one or more of the arteries supplying the heart is completely blocked.
  • Under the age 45 years, 80% of heart attack victims are smokers.
  • Smoking can result in poor circulation (peripheral artery disease) and cause pain in the legs when walking. This is called Intermittent Claudication .
  • Cerebral Vascular Accidents, more commonly called "strokes", are more common in smokers causing weakness down one side of the body, loss of vision, inability to speak and sometimes even death.
  • Impotence occurs due to the narrowing and sometimes obstruction by atheroma plaques, of the arteries that supply the penis with blood.
  • A deep vein thrombosis (DVT), is a blood clot that blocks a vein can damage the leg but also cause smaller clots to break off and lodge in the lungs, brain or eye. The risk of a DVT is increased for those that smoke, but especially for women that smoke and take the oral contraceptive pill or HRT, anyone over the age of 40 and smoke, overweight and smoke those inactive or immobile and smoke.

The risk of thrombosis is not in direct proportion to the number of cigarettes smoked .


  • Tobacco increases the risk of rhinitis and allergic conjunctivitis because it is an irritant and for those people being in the presence of smokers will worsen their symptoms
  • Tobacco smoke does not cause allergies , except rarely in some people working in tobacco factories. However, it does often magnify the allergic reactions of susceptible people.

Asthma and chronic bronchitis

  • Smoking is the main cause of many respiratory illnesses such as chronic bronchitis, emphysema, chromic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma.
  • Tar coming from the cigarette smoke deteriorates the tiny hairs that line the lungs.


  • Tobacco plays a role in the onset of an asthma attack.
  • It aggravates the frequency, rate and intensity of asthma attacks.
  • Many asthmatics feel uncomfortable and sometimes symptomatic in a smoking environment.

Chronic bronchitis, COPD and Emphysema

  • Chronic bronchitis, COPD and Emphysema are primarily related to smoking.
  • It causes: breathlessness for even walking short distances and as the state of the disease advances, this breathlessness become much more severe. For some a thick cough occurs principally on first thing on waking in the morning and frequent repetitive exacerbations and infections occurs.
  • COPD, chronic bronchitis and emphysema accounts for 25,000 deaths in the UK each year and over 8 out of 10 are directly linked to smoking.
  • The heavier the smoker, this increased likelhood of respiratory failure is more likely causing increasing breathlessness especially with any effort, and a need for oxygen therapy at home, help at home and frequent hospital admissions.

Skin damage from tobacco

Smoking causes:
  • The appearance of wrinkles due to degeneration of the skin's elasticity.
  • The appearance of a, waxy and slightly greyish complexion which can be reversible after stopping smoking.
  • Bad breath - all smokers have unpleasant breath .
  • Discoloured, yellowing teeth
  • Poor wound healing and poor formation of scars.

Ears, Nose and Throat (ENT) problems

  • Infections concerning the ears, nose, throat are more frequent among smokers and their children.
  • Smokers are more liable to sore throats, colds, laryngitis and ear infections.
  • Heavy smokers can have a typical throaty, rasping voice is easily recognisable in most heavy smokers.

Allergies to tobacco

Allergies to tobacco are exceptional but can sometimes be found in people working in tobacco factories.


Tabac - Effets du tabac sur la santé
Tabac - Effets du tabac sur la santé
Consecuencias del tabaco sobre la salud
Consecuencias del tabaco sobre la salud
Auswirkungen von Rauchen auf die Gesundheit
Auswirkungen von Rauchen auf die Gesundheit
Latest update on March 18, 2014 at 10:51 AM by Crashounette.
This document, titled "Consequences of tobacco on health," is available under the Creative Commons license. Any copy, reuse, or modification of the content should be sufficiently credited to CCM Health (