This bad habit may lead to various health problems including heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Tobacco is dangerous for overall health no matter smoked or chewed it is. Acetone, tar, nicotine, carbon monoxide, and other unsafe substances contain tobacco products. These harmful substances negatively affect your lungs and other organs in your body. Smoking can also increase your risk of developing certain health conditions. Examples include:

Avoiding tobacco products may reverse or decrease the risk of the diseases listed above. That’s why it is recommended to quit smoking.

Smoking tobacco is very harmful for your health and there is no way to smoke safely. If you decide to replace cigarettes with pipes, e-cigarettes, cigars, or hookahs, it will not help you to avoid certain health risks. Approximately 600 harmful ingredients are contained in a cigarette, according to the American Lung Association. However, many of these also contain hookahs and cigars. They usually generate around 7000 chemicals when they burn and many of them are toxic. Furthermore, at least 69 of them are known to be carcinogenic or to provoke cancer.

In addition, not all harmful effects of smoking are immediate. However, the complications and damage may last for years. The only way to decrease the risk of health conditions is to quit smoking.

Cancer Risk

Smoking can increase cancer risk almost everywhere in the body. It elevates inflammation throughout the body and impacts your immune system. Therefore, you may be more susceptible to an infection. Check below some cancer types that smoking can provoke:

  • Cervical cancer
  • Acute myeloid leukemia
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Stomach or gastric cancer
  • Tracheal, bronchial, and lung cancer
  • Oropharyngeal cancer (that may include soft palate, throat, tongue, and tonsils)
  • Laryngeal cancer
  • Kidney and uterine cancer

To reduce the risk of developing these types of cancers, it is advised to quit smoking right away. Anyway, the cancer risk decreases roughly in 10-20 years. It means that if you quit smoking your risk of cancer will remain higher than those who never smoked.

Central Nervous System

One mood-altering ingredient in tobacco is nicotine. It is highly addictive and it reaches your brain in a few seconds. It also can energize you for a while. This is one factor that makes it difficult to quit smoking. Additionally, physical withdrawal from nicotine is unpleasant and can impair your ability to think, giving you certain negative emotions. For example depression, irritability, anxiety, and others. Moreover, headaches and sleeping disturbances also may occur due to withdrawal.


Long-term smoking may negatively affect your vision and optic nerve. Check below some eye conditions that may provoke smoking:

  • Age-related macular degeneration is a condition that provokes damage to a spot in the center of your retina. This effect may lead to loss of the central vision.
  • Cataracts (cloudy vision)
  • Glaucoma is an eye condition that increases the pressure inside the eye. Therefore, it causes nerve damage and can lead to blindness.

Respiratory System

Using tobacco products can damage the airways including air sacs (alveoli) in the lungs and cilia. Tiny hair-like structures that help to prevent dirt and mucus from entering the lungs are called Cilia.

Lung Damage

Lung damage and tissue loss that smoking causes will never come back. Respiratory system damage may increase your risk of developing some infections that will negatively affect your lungs. For example bronchitis, pneumonia, tuberculosis, and others. Chronic cough may also appear due to smoking. In addition, if you experience asthma and you continue smoking, you may notice severe asthma attacks.

In severe cases, lung damage may lead to lung cancer. People who smoke are 20 times more likely to develop this type of cancer than nonsmokers.

Chronic Lung Diseases

Nonreversible and chroming lung diseases may occur in people who use tobacco products. For example:

  • Asthma
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Chronic bronchitis (it is a permanent inflammation of the lining of the breathing tubes of the lungs)
  • Emphysema

Temporary respiratory discomfort and congestion may occur if you quit smoking. In addition, if you notice an increased mucus production right after quitting smoking, it is usually a positive symptom because the respiratory system begins recovering.

Reproductive and Sexually System

Tobacco products contain nicotine, which negatively affects blood circulation. It may lead to sexual and reproductive problems in both females and males.

Fertility Issues

You may experience a decrease in hormone levels, which may lead to low sex drive and fertility problems.


Sexual dissatisfaction by reducing lubrication and the ability to get an orgasm may occur due to smoking. Additionally, nonsmokers are more likely to reach menopause late than females who smoke. Smoking may also increase the risk of:

  • Early delivery
  • Stillbirth
  • Ectopic pregnancy
  • Cleft palate and lip infants
  • Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
  • Low birth weight


Smoking can decrease sexual performance and affect the function of blood vessels. This effect may restrict the blood flow needed to get and maintain an erection, which may lead to erectile dysfunction and fertility problems. Birth defects and miscarriages may occur due to the harmful effects of smoking on the DNA in sperm.

Cardiovascular System

Smoking tobacco is one of the most common factors of cardiovascular disease in the U.S. It may damage your blood vessels, heart, arteries, and others.

In addition, nicotine a substance that contains tobacco products may also tighten your blood vessels, which usually restricts the blood flow. This effect increases your risk of blood clots, weakened blood vessel walls, hypertension, and others. Check below some examples of cardiovascular diseases:

  • Stroke
  • Peripheral artery disease
  • Abdominal aortic aneurysm
  • Coronary artery disease (such as myocardial infarction and sudden cardiac death)
  • Atherosclerosis

Smoking may worsen your heart disease if you recently experienced heart bypass surgery, a heart attack, a stent placed in a blood vessel, and others. For more details, discuss it with a healthcare provider.

Integumentary System

Using long-term tobacco products can impact your integumentary system (skin, hair, and nails).


Substances that cigarettes contain may change your skin structure, which may lead to some unpleasant results. Examples include:

  • Psoriasis
  • Some types of skin cancer
  • A condition that provokes painful boils called hidradenitis suppurativa
  • Delayed wound healing
  • Wrinkles
  • Premature skin damage associated with aging

This bad habit may also elevate your risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma (skin cancer) on the lips.


Androgenic alopecia is a health condition that provokes hair loss in males. It also may occur due to smoking. Hair loss provoked by smoking occurs due to:

  • DNA damage
  • Hormonal effects
  • Generation of free radicals
  • Vasoconstriction


Nicotine may also negatively affect your fingernails and toenails. It means that you may be at higher risk of developing fungal nail infections.

Digestive System

There are several ways in which smoking cigarettes affects the digestive system. Check below some examples:

Cancer Risk

Using tobacco products in the long term may elevate your risk of cancer in the organs of the digestive system. For example cancer of the:

  • Larynx
  • Pancreas
  • Colon and rectum
  • Stomach
  • Throat
  • Mouth
  • Esophagus

Type 2 Diabetes

Insulin resistance may occur in people who smoke cigarettes. Type 2 diabetes and its complications may occur in people who smoke.

Periodontal Disease

Smoking cigarettes may also increase your risk of a health condition that affects your gums (Periodontal Disease). It commonly occurs due to inflammation that smoking provokes around the teeth. In this condition, gums may become swollen and bleed (gingivitis). Thereafter, they may start to pull away from the teeth (periodontitis).

Skeletal System

Your bone health may be negatively affected by smoking. It may decrease your bone density, which may lead to bone loss (osteoporosis). In addition, tobacco products may also impact your teeth and provoke tooth decay and loss.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does smoking affect infants, children, and teens?

Generally, they experience bad and dangerous effects due to smoking. For example, a baby may born with underdeveloped lungs, if the pregnant woman smokes cigarettes during pregnancy. Children may experience some health problems in case parents or caregivers smoke. For example:

  • Wheezing
  • Coughing
  • Pneumonia
  • Asthma attacks
  • Tuberculosis
  • Bronchitis
  • Decreased lung function
  • Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis
  • Impaired lung growth, and others.

Additionally, teens who smoke may have lungs that are smaller and weaker compared with those who do not use tobacco products.

How do your lungs heal after quitting smoking?

Dormant cells in your lungs will begin to replace the damaged lung cells lining your airways. This process with start right after quitting smoking. For more details, discuss it with your healthcare professional.

What is the main factor that makes people continue to smoke?

Tobacco contains nicotine, which is a substance that causes addiction. Moreover, it is considered that Nicotine helps to decrease stress and anxiety but it is not true. However, it creates a sudden sense of relaxation. Ask your healthcare professional if you have any questions.

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