Cigarette Smoking: Effects on Health & Well-being

Effects of Smoking

Cigarette smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals. Of these substances, 69 are recognized as carcinogens. The aspirated smoke circulates in the human body and touches almost every organ. This is why smoking affects both the health and well-being of smokers. Smoke also affects the health of non-smokers who are exposed to it. Other tobacco products, such as cigars and cigarillos also pose significant health risks. These are not safer options than smoking.


Nicotine is a substance that occurs naturally in tobacco and is added in some electronic cigarettes. Nicotine is the cause of addiction and physical dependence on tobacco products. A person can become dependent quickly, sometimes even before starting to smoke each day. Smoking 1 to 5 cigarettes a week might be enough to become addicted. Nicotine addiction is comparable to that caused by heroin or cocaine use.

Pregnancy and adolescence are periods during which the brain is actively developing. Thus, the nicotine to which a pregnant woman is exposed harms the optimal development of the fetal brain. The development of a teenager’s brain is also affected if he/she is exposed to nicotine.

Effects on Health and Well-Being

In the short term, smoking has the following effects:

a. Cough;

b. Breathless;

c. Bad breath;

d. Decreased taste and smell;

e. Fatigue and a decrease in energy level;

Smokers are also more likely to have multiple health problems, such as:

f. The risk of heart attack and stroke is greatly increased by smoking;

g. Breathing or lung problems, such as asthma or excessive coughing

h. Certain types of cancer, including lung cancer;

i. In women: menstrual problems;

j. In men: erectile problems.

Smoking can also affect fertility. In addition, smoking during pregnancy can harm the developing fetus. For example, the risk of preterm birth and low birth weight infants is increased.

A Decrease in Life Expectancy

At least half of all smokers will die as a result of their smoking. Their life expectancy is reduced by at least 10 years compared to non-smokers. Smoking only 1 to 4 cigarettes a day is enough to increase the risk of dying prematurely.

Effects of Second-hand Smoke

Non-smokers can also be exposed to the chemicals in the smoke when they are in the presence of smokers. This phenomenon is called exposure to second-hand smoke.

Second-hand smoke can affect the health and well-being of those exposed to it, whether they smoke or not. These people are more likely to have health problems such as:

1. Heart problems;

2. Lung or breathing problems such as asthma or excessive coughing

3. Lung cancer.

Second-hand smoke is considered one of the most dangerous environmental contaminants. Exposure to second-hand smoke is dangerous: even breathing a small amount of second-hand smoke can be harmful.

Protection and Prevention

1. Smoking Cessation:

Quitting smoking has many health benefits for people of all ages from the first minutes after stopping. Your circulation begins to improve soon after you quit, and your blood pressure begins to return to normal. Your sense of smell and taste return, and eases breathing problems. In the extended period, giving up tobacco can help you live longer. Your risk of getting cancer minimizes with each year you stay smoke-free.

2. Protection Against Second-hand Smoke:

The only way to protect yourself from second-hand smoke is to go to smoke-free spaces. Opening a window, using the range hood, a fan or an air filter is not effective in protecting yourself from second-hand smoke inside. Even outdoors, second-hand smoke can sometimes be a problem, depending on the number of smokers, wind speed, outdoor temperature, location patterns, and so on.

Tobacco Control Act strictly prohibits smoking in many public places. This measure provides smoke-free spaces, including:

a. Hospitals;

b. Workplaces;

c. Schools and daycares;

d. Restaurants as well as their terraces;

e. Some outdoor locations such as children’s play areas.

Strategies that Work

If you are considering permanent smoking cessation, you do well to ask yourself what you can do to make it easier. There are effective strategies, the use of which is recognized, approved and safe for your health. Although there is no miracle recipe for quitting, here are some good examples of ingredients to put into a winning recipe:

1. Have a real motivation to quit;

2. Use approved smoking cessation aids (patches, gums, lozenges, inhaler, nicotine spray, oral medications, etc.);

3. Receive support for smoking cessation by a health professional.

In addition to these three basic ingredients, you can add complementary methods: yoga, meditation, neurolinguistics programming, etc. It is up to you to look for methods that are right for you and that you trust.

Good news: If you decide to quit smoking, the majority of the damage done to your body by tobacco smoke will fade away and you will reap many benefits! So why continue smoking?

Written by MedPlus