Cigarette Smoking: The Effects & Dangers of Tobacco Use

Cigarette smoking has long been part of human culture. It was first discovered in the Americas, and it has grown in popularity over time. Unfortunately, many people don’t realize the devastating effects that cigarette smoking has on health.

Smoking contributes to most of the leading causes of death in the United States. It can cause cancer, heart disease, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and other illnesses. Furthermore, the effects of smoking can last long after quitting. Smokers have a higher risk of developing a variety of diseases, including type 2 diabetes and osteoporosis.

Effects of Smoking

Cigarette smoking causes a number of short and long-term health effects, both physically and psychologically. The most commonly known physical effects are lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and emphysema.

  • Carbon monoxide: Tobacco smoke contains a large amount of the gas carbon monoxide, which restricts the flow of oxygen in the body and can increase blood pressure.
  • Tar: Tar, a nasty by-product of burning tobacco, clings to the surface of the lungs and irritates the airways. It can also damage the alveoli (sac-like structures in the lungs that allow oxygen to be absorbed into the bloodstream).
  • Nicotine: This addictive substance causes blood vessels to constrict and increases the risk of stroke and heart attack.

Other effects of smoking include:

  • Coughing and wheezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Frequent colds
  • Increased risk of infection
  • Decreased fertility
  • Lowered immune system
  • Bone loss
  • Damaged teeth and gums

The psychological effects of smoking can be just as devastating. Smokers may feel anxious, experience irritability, or become easily agitated. They may feel a strong craving for nicotine and can develop depression or other mental health issues.

The Hazards of Second-hand Smoke

Second-hand smoke, commonly known as passive smoking, is also hazardous to health. It is the smoke produced by a burning cigarette and the smoke exhaled by the smoker. It can cause respiratory illnesses, heart disease, stroke, and lung cancer in non-smokers who are exposed to it. Pregnant women and children are particularly vulnerable to the dangers of second-hand smoke.

Quitting Smoking

Quitting smoking is not easy, but it is possible. In fact, the benefits of quitting are immediate. Just 20 minutes after quitting, your heart rate and blood pressure will drop. After one year, your risk of heart attack and stroke will have been reduced by half. Quitting smoking has numerous long-term benefits for your mental and physical health. For help quitting tobacco, talk to your doctor or visit