Why is smoking harmful?

Cigarette smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals – many of which are irritants or toxins, and at least 70 are known to cause cancer. When you smoke, these chemicals pass directly to your lungs and from there to the rest of your body. Everyone around you is also exposed to harmful second-hand smoke, which contains toxic toxins and carbon monoxide.

Even if you smoke a small amount of tar or light cigarettes, you can still absorb as much tar, carbon monoxide and other toxic substances as regular smokers.

If you are pregnant, quitting smoking is one of the best things you and your partner can do to help your baby grow healthily. When you smoke during pregnancy, harmful chemicals pass to your baby, increasing the risk of miscarriage and stillbirth. Exposure to second-hand smoke also increases the risk of chest problems, ear infections and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) in children.

In the UK, smoking causes about 96,000 deaths each year. If you smoke and are under 40, you are five times more likely to have a heart attack. A quarter of all cancers, including the lungs, mouth, lips, throat, bladder, kidneys, pancreas, stomach, liver and cervix, are caused by smoking. If you smoke for a long time, your average life expectancy is about 10 years less than that of non-smokers.