What are the health effects of smoking?

There is no way to do that; smoking is bad for your health. It harms almost every organ of the body, some of which you would not expect. Cigarette smoking causes nearly one in five deaths in the United States. It can also cause many other cancers and health problems. These include:

Women who smoke while pregnant have a greater chance of certain pregnancy problems. Their babies are also at greater risk of dying from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Smoking also causes addiction to nicotine, a stimulant found in tobacco. Nicotine addiction makes it much harder for people to quit smoking.

What are the health risks of secondhand smoke?

Your smoking is also bad for other people – they inhale your smoke second hand and can get many of the same problems as smokers. These include heart disease and lung cancer. Children who are exposed to secondhand smoke are at greater risk of ear infections, colds, pneumonia, bronchitis and worse asthma. Mothers who inhale secondhand smoke while pregnant are more likely to have premature labor and low birth weight babies.

Are other types of tobacco also dangerous?

Besides cigarettes, there are several other forms of tobacco. Some people smoke tobacco in cigars and water pipes (water pipes). These forms of tobacco also contain harmful chemicals and nicotine. Some cigars contain as much tobacco as a whole pack of cigarettes.

E-cigarettes often look like cigarettes, but they work differently. They are battery-powered smoking devices. The use of an e-cigarette is called vaping. Not much is known about the health risks of using it. We do know that they contain nicotine, the same addictive substance in tobacco cigarettes. E-cigarettes also expose non-smokers to second-hand aerosols (rather than second-hand smoke), which contain harmful chemicals.

Smokeless tobacco, such as plum tobacco and snuff, is also bad for your health. Smokeless tobacco can cause certain cancers, including oral cancer. It also increases your risk of getting heart disease, gum disease and oral lesions.

Why should I quit?

Remember, there is no safe level of tobacco use. Smoking even just one cigarette a day over a lifetime can cause smoking-related cancers and premature death. Quitting smoking can reduce your risk for health problems. The sooner you quit, the greater the benefit. Some immediate benefits of quitting include:

  • Lower heart rate and blood pressure
  • Less carbon monoxide in the blood (carbon monoxide reduces the blood’s ability to carry oxygen)
  • Better circulation
  • Less coughing and wheezing

NIH National Cancer Institute