Woman holding a cigarette and coughing

Smokers’ Conditions: The Harmful Effects of Smoking

It’s hard to quit smoking without having a strong goal or reason to do so. If you’re looking for a good reason to call it quits with cigarettes, consider the many adverse effects that smoking can have on your health. The chemicals found in cigarettes are incredibly harmful and can lead to many serious conditions. In fact, smoking harms nearly every organ of the body and affects a person’s overall health.1

Serious conditions caused by smoking

It might not be easy to learn about the many ways that smoking can affect you, but it’s important to know the facts if you’re looking to quit. Listed here are smokers’ conditions and diseases caused by smoking:

1. Respiratory Diseases

Cigarette smoke can cause immediate damage to your health and can have major consequences on the lungs at all ages.2 Smoking can lead to many types of respiratory diseases that range from mild to severe. If you smoke, you are more likely than a non-smoker to get the flu, pneumonia, or other infections that interfere with your breathing.3 Frequent smokers are at a higher risk for chronic bronchitis and emphysema, which destroys the lungs and makes it harder to breathe.3 Cigarette smoking is also the cause of most lung cancer cases.4 In addition to lung cancer, cigarette smoking can cause cancer in other parts of the respiratory system like the oropharynx, larynx, trachea, and bronchus.2

2. Heart Diseases

Smoking increases your risk of heart disease and stroke.3 Cigarette smoking can damage your heart by making blood sticky and more likely to clot, damaging cells that line the blood vessels, increasing the buildup of plaque in blood vessels and lowering “good” cholesterol.5 Smoking is not only harmful to those that smoke, but it can also affect the people around them. Non-smokers who breathe secondhand smoke at home or at work increase their risk of developing heart disease by 25 to 30%.5

3. Diabetes

Smokers are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than non-smokers, and smoking makes it harder to control diabetes after getting it.3 Smokers who develop diabetes are more likely to have trouble with insulin dosing and managing their condition.6 If you already have diabetes or continue to smoke after being diagnosed with diabetes, your chances of developing serious conditions such as heart disease or kidney disease are much higher.6

4. Skin problems

Cigarettes can also have a negative effect on the appearance of your skin by making it look duller and more wrinkled.3 Smoking can speed up the normal aging process of your skin, contributing to wrinkles and other changes to how your face looks.7 Other skin problems caused by smoking include uneven skin complexion, deep creases and puffiness below the eyes, crow’s-feet, and thinner lips.7

5. Oral health problems

Oral health problems like gum disease are commonly known to occur as a result of poor oral hygiene habits, but smoking can also affect the health of your gums and teeth. Smoking can cause gum disease, which is an infection of the gums and can affect the bone structure that supports your teeth.8 Smoking weakens your body’s immune system, which makes it harder to fight off a gum infection.8

6. Problems with pregnancy

Smoking during pregnancy puts your own health and your baby’s health at risk.9 Cigarettes are filled with harmful toxins and exposing your own body to these toxins means the fetus is exposed to them as well. Smoking while pregnant can lead to your baby being born too early, having a birth defect or suffering from sudden infant death syndrome.9 In addition to pregnancy, smoking can cause fertility problems in both women and men, making it difficult to conceive a child.9

Quitting smoking to improve your health

While smoking can affect your health in several different ways, quitting can help you get back on the right track.Your lungs, heart, and circulatory system will begin to function better and your chances of getting cancer will drop after quitting smoking.3

Quitting smoking can require lots of time and patience, but the benefits of quitting make it worth going through the process. Some steps you can take to start your quit journey include:

  • Planning your quit and finding a support system to guide you through the process. You can sign up for programs like MyQuit to get customized tips and guidance as you work towards quitting.
  • Take a walk or find a new physical activity that you may enjoy.3 Physical activity is not only beneficial to your health, but it can also serve as a way to relieve stress and keep yourself distracted when nicotine withdrawal symptoms hit.
  • Use nicotine replacement therapy products to slowly curb your withdrawal symptoms. Try products like Nicorette Gum and Nicorette Lozenges for discreet, over-the-counter relief that tastes great.
  • Identify your smoking triggers and make a plan to deal with them.3 Smoking triggers can be specific situations or activities that you associate with smoking.
  • Talk to your doctor to get advice on how to start quitting. Your doctor can guide you through the process and help you find quitting mechanisms that work best for you.

Quitting smoking may be a challenge, but the benefits that come with being healthy and smoke-free will help you live your best life. Visit the Nicorette Support Hub for more advice on how to quit smoking.

  1. Tips from Former Smokers: Overview of Diseases/Conditions. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/campaign/tips/diseases/index.html Accessed 9/9/2021.
  2. Keep Your Air Clear: How Tobacco Can Harm Your Lungs. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. https://www.fda.gov/tobacco-products/health-effects-tobacco-use/keep-your-air-clear-how-tobacco-can-harm-your-lungs Accessed 9/9/2021
  3. Quitting Smoking for Older Adults. National Institute on Aging. https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/quitting-smoking-older-adults Accessed 9/9/2021.
  4. Health Effects of Cigarette Smoking. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/health_effects/effects_cig_smoking /index.htm Accessed 9/9/2021.
  5. Smoking and Heart Disease and Stroke. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/campaign/tips/diseases/heart-disease-stroke.html Accessed 9/9/2021.
  6. Smoking and Diabetes. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/campaign/tips/diseases/diabetes.html Accessed 9/9/2021.
  7. Smoking: Does it cause wrinkles? Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/quit-smoking/expert-answers/smoking/faq-20058153 Accessed 9/9/2021.
  8. Smoking, Gum Disease, and Tooth Loss. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/campaign/tips/diseases/periodontal-gum-disease.html Accessed 9/9/2021.
  9. Smoking, Pregnancy, and Babies. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/campaign/tips/diseases/pregnancy.html Accessed 9/9/2021.

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