Health Effects of Smoking

March 2018
The effects of smoking are insidious and become apparent on the body almost immediately.

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 that a person smokes as well as the quantity of cigarettes that they smoke are some principal factors.


Tobacco smoking is the number one risk factor for developing cancer. Smoking has caused cancer and killed approximately 6 million people over the last 50 years.

The carcinogenic smoke and the by-products of cigarette settle in most of the body's organs via inhalation through the lungs and saliva. In particular, the digestive tract, bladder, lungs, tongue, and throat are affected. Smoke from the mild or light-type cigarettes reach the small airways more deeply, causing more severe forms of cancer.

N.B. Giving up smoking decreases the risk of lung cancer. Ten years after quitting, an individual's 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 the condition of their lungs. Any persisting symptoms or problems should be followed by a visit to their GP.

Cardiovascular Diseases

Smoking is one of the main risk factors of cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attacks, high blood pressure, narrowing of the arteries and blood supply to the legs, stroke, blood clots, and impotence.

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 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.

Smoking can result in poor circulation, or 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. This condition can cause 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 of the arteries that supply the penis with blood.

A deep vein thrombosis (DVT), is a blood clot that blocks a vein and 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 who smoke and is multiplied when combined with other risk factors.


Tobacco can increase your risk of rhinitis and allergic conjunctivitis because it is an irritant. 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.

Tobacco plays a role in the onset of an asthma attack. It also aggravates the frequency, rate, and intensity of asthma attacks.

Chronic bronchitis, COPD, and emphysema are primarily related to smoking. They cause: breathlessness, even after walking short distances; a thick cough, especially upon waking; and frequent, repeated infections.

The heavier the smoker, the higher their likelihood of experiencing respiratory failure is. This can result in the need for oxygen therapy and additional medical at home as well as 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 gray complexion that can be reversible after stopping smoking; and 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 sometimes have a characteristic throaty, raspy voice.

Image: © Hayati Kayhan -

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Latest update on December 19, 2017 at 04:38 PM by owilson.
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