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How Does Smoking Affect the Body

Millions of people live with a disease caused by smoking, and this unhealthy habit claims the lives of about 24,000 Australians every year.

Excessive smoking is one of the leading causes of disease and disability, and it brings harm to nearly every organ in the body.

No matter how you smoke it, tobacco is dangerous to your health. There are no safe substances in any tobacco products, from acetone and tar to nicotine and carbon monoxide. The substances you inhale don’t just affect your lungs. They can affect your entire body.

Smoking can lead to a variety of ongoing complications in the body, as well as long-term effects on your body systems. While smoking can increase your risk of a variety of problems over several years, some of the bodily effects are immediate. Learn more about the symptoms and overall effects of smoking on the body below.

Health Effects of Smoking Cigarettes

How Does Smoking Affect the Body 1

Cigarette smoking is known to be the root cause of many diseases and reduces the health of smokers in general.

Excessive smoking is proven to increase the risk of dying from all causes, on top of those tobacco-related use. Within a few seconds of the first puff, the toxic chemicals will reach the brain, heart, and other vital organs.

Cigarette smoking can affect the respiratory, circulatory, and reproductive systems. It can cause vision problems, skin rashes, and worse, it increases the risk of many different cancers.

Smoking can also alter one’s physical appearance, develop negative emotions, destroy finances, and can negatively impact relationships with others.

In this article, we look at seven possible effects of smoking cigarettes.

Physical Health

Overall Health and Life Span

  • Smokers take more sick days. They also have higher health care costs.
  • Insurers can charge tobacco users up to 50% more than people who don’t use tobacco.
  • Smoking can cut at least 10 years off your expected lifespan.
  • Smoking is the leading cause of premature, preventable death in this country.


  • Smoking is the leading cause of cancer and death from cancer.
  • Smoking can cause cancer almost anywhere in the body. Like the lungs, throat, mouth, liver, breasts, colon, pancreas, and stomach.
  • Poisons in tobacco smoke can damage or change a cell’s DNA. DNA is the cell’s “instruction manual” that controls a cell’s normal growth and function. When DNA gets damaged, a cell can grow out of control and create a cancerous tumor.
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Cardiovascular Disease

  • Smoking increases the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke by two to four times.
  • Even people who smoke fewer than five cigarettes a day can have early signs of cardiovascular disease.
  • Smoking damages blood vessels and can make them get thick and narrow. This makes your heart have to beat faster, and your blood pressure goes up. Blood clots can also form.

Respiratory Disease

  • Smoking causes lung diseases like emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
  • Tobacco smoke can trigger an asthma attack or make an attack worse.
  • Smokers are 12 to 13 times more likely to die from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease—which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis—than nonsmokers.

Wound Healing

  • Ingredients in tobacco can damage your blood vessels and decrease the amount of blood flowing to wounds. They can also decrease oxygen in your blood.
  • Smoking can decrease the strength of scar tissue and reduce the chance that skin grafts will be successful.
  • Smoking just one cigarette a day can have a negative effect on the body’s ability to heal.


  • Smoking can make some conditions more painful. This includes back pain, headaches, rheumatoid arthritis, tooth and gum pain, and fibromyalgia.
  • Chemicals in cigarettes may relieve your pain for a bit. But when you’re done smoking, the pain will still be there. When you begin to feel withdrawal from nicotine, your pain can feel even worse.

Vision and Eye Problems

  • Chemicals in tobacco smoke can decrease blood circulation and oxygen flow to the eyes. This can cause a variety of vision and eye problems.
  • Smoking causes dry eye syndrome. That can cause blurry vision, eye stinging, and contact lens discomfort.
  • Smoking causes macular degeneration disease, which triggers damage to the retinas that can’t be undone. It’s a leading cause of blindness.

Women’s Health

  • Smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke can make it more difficult to get pregnant.
  • Smoking can cause ectopic pregnancy. This happens when a fertilized egg implants somewhere in the abdomen other than the uterus.
  • Smoking during pregnancy causes miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth, low birth weight, and birth defects.

Mental and Emotional Health

  • Smoking can make it harder to fall asleep and worsen the quality of your sleep.
  • Smoking can increase your feelings of stress and anxiety. Plus, smoking can increase symptoms of depression.
  • When you smoke, certain medications used to treat depression and anxiety disorders don’t work as well.
  • Smoking may make your post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms—like anxiety, re-experiencing, avoidance, and numbing—worse.
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Breathing problems and chronic respiratory conditions

Smoking is one of the leading causes of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD.

COPD is a severe, progressive, and disabling condition that causes airway blockage and breathing problems.

Active smoking can also trigger asthma and is associated with an increased risk of asthma attacks in adolescents and adults.

Heart disease, stroke, and blood circulation problems

Cigarette smoking can cause various cardiovascular diseases, including stroke and heart diseases. It increases the risk of blood clots, resulting in interrupted blood flow to the heart, brain, and other parts of the body.

Frequent smokers can have circulation problems, leading to amputation of limbs.


Smoking increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes with 30% to 40% higher occurrence for smokers than non-smokers. It can also worsen symptoms relating to type 2 diabetes, such as kidney disease.


Excessive smoking causes most lung cancers and cancers in different parts of the body. These include throat, lip, tongue, stomach, liver, kidney, pancreas, cervix, and more.

Fertility Issues

Tobacco use can affect one’s ability to conceive. It reduces fertility in women can cause problems during pregnancy. It can also affect sperm quality in men.

Smoking can affect the fetus’s development and can contribute to a list of issues including:

  • Risk of ectopic pregnancy
  • Malnutrition or decreases the baby’s birth weight
  • Risk of preterm delivery
  • Severe damages to the baby’s lungs, brain, and central nervous system
  • Risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)

Skin Problems

Smoking speeds up the skin’s aging process, causing the early appearance of wrinkles and rashes.

Take note that the damage is irreversible, and it can result in many skin diseases, including skin cancer.

Vision and Hearing Loss

The harmful chemicals in cigarettes can damage the eye, leading to macular degeneration. The condition is known to be the main cause of blindness in Australia.

Smoking also reduces the blood flow to the inner nerves of the ear. Active smokers may experience hearing loss over time.

Weakened immune system

Cigarette smoking can cause the immune system to decrease its function, making them more susceptible to illnesses, bacteria, and viral infections. It can also increase inflammation in the body.

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There is no way around it; smoking is bad for the health. It is the primary cause of many health conditions, and it harms nearly every organ in the body.

The smoke produces also has its side effects on other people. Breathing secondhand smoke can cause many health complications as active smokers do, such as heart disease and cancer.

Children’s exposure to secondhand smoke also increases their risk of infection, colds, pneumonia, bronchitis, and severe asthma.

Nicotine addiction is another one of the harmful effects of smoking. Nicotine is a stimulant drug found in tobacco, making it harder for people to quit this habit.

Quitting smoking can be difficult, but seeking help from a doctor can help. Ask them for advice and work with them to create an action plan. There are various medications and treatments available that can make people quit smoking. You can look into products like Nicobloc drops.

Learn the effects of cigarette smoking in a first aid course and what to do in an emergency.

Last Updated on April 1, 2022 by Scott Staffin

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