Harmful Effects of Smoking on Health

Smoking can be considered as an evil deep rooted in the society. The web of smokers is increasing its presence everyday with more new smokers added to the list. It is an addiction and becomes very difficult to leave the habit later. Once it was considered a masculine habit but off late there are several female smokers increasing in numbers every year. A lot of research has been done all these years and now we know the harmful effects of smoking. It is alarming to know that several thousands of people are killed every year from diseases related to smoking and this number keeps on increasing every year.


harmful effects of smoking

A plastic model of human lungs showing harmful effects of smoking (Image credit: dsmsoft / 123RF Stock Photo)

Cigarette is filled with several chemicals that are harmful to health. These chemicals when exposed for a longer duration cause several bad effects on one’s health. There are as many as 4000 chemicals present in a cigarette. Included in the list are carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, metals, cyanide, ammonia and other radio active compounds.



Smoking temporarily increases the heart rate. It causes stress on the arteries and heart. In smokers, the blood flow in the body slows down thus affecting the levels of oxygen in the blood. The heart will have to work much harder to pump the blood. Blood vessels will become narrow and this condition may lead to heart attack in smokers. 40% of men and 60% of women who smoke are at the risk of getting a heart attack. One out of five deaths from heart disease is caused by smoking.



Smoking affects the health of your mouth and throat. More than 80% cases of mouth and throat cancers occur in people who smoke cigarettes or cigars for a prolonged period. The risk of mouth and throat cancer increases with the length of time and the amount of tobacco one smokes. By quitting smoking, you can not only reduce your risk of mouth and throat cancer significantly but can avoid many other harmful effects of smoking.



Smoking predominantly affects the lungs. Carbon monoxide and cyanide present in the cigarette badly affect the pulmonary cavity. The tar in the smoke will form a layer in the lungs like soot. It may lead to cancer in the later stages. Smoking will narrow the air passages of the lungs and their functioning gets badly affected. People who smoke are 10 times more likely to develop lung cancer than non-smokers. Respiratory infections, asthma and other respiratory disorders may arise because of smoking. Another lung disease that affects smokers is emphysema.



Smokers usually face problems related to mouth, tongue, gums and esophagus. The tar in the cigarette leads to the discoloration of teeth. Bad breath which is also known as Halitosis is quite common in cigarette smokers. They tend to have more dental problems than normal people. The tongue may lose its taste sensation. Mouth ulcers are one of the common problems faced by all smokers. Harmful disease like cancer can develop in the oral cavity.



Tar in the smoke leaves a residue in the mouth and it enters the digestive tract along with the food. As a result, the stomach produces more gastric juices and damages the stomach lining. In later stages this condition leads to the formation of ulcers. The tar in the smoke may become the reason for abnormal cell growth which leads to cancer in the mouth, stomach or rectal region. Liver also gets affected as it has to strain itself in eliminating the harmful chemicals that enter the body through smoke.



Nicotine in cigarette badly affects the immune system. Resistance system in the body gets affected. Smokers fall ill frequently because of this reason. Smokers are susceptible to cold, bronchitis and pulmonary bronchitis. They are prone to contract HIV because of poor immunity.



Baby’s health will be affected if mother smokes during pregnancy. Chances of premature delivery are more and the baby’s weight will be low in smoking mothers. The baby may not develop fully in the stomach. Several hormonal changes take place in women who smoke.



Harmful effects of smoking are anyways seen in smokers. But it also affects those who people who are present in the smoking environment. Like smokers, these passive smokers face several health hazards. Infants are more susceptible to pulmonary diseases like asthma, bronchitis and pneumonia. Little older children face problems related to ears and lungs.


It can be summarized that smoking leads to several problems not only for the smoker but also to others who live in the same environment. For parents who are smokers, chances of their children becoming smokers are twice as compared to those parents who do not smoke. The habit of smoking should be quit at the earliest.

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