The effects of tobacco smoking on health are very adverse to the extent of smoking being called the biggest killer mankind has known. Some smoking effects are seen short term while the dangerous ones occur over the long term

If you read the prevalence of smoking, you will know how widespread it is and how many people smoking kills per year.

There is this other article that talks about the well-known facts of smoking, which tells you how bad it is and how people who try to quit, find it so difficult.

Tobacco or cigarette smoking every day not only kills but can cause debilitating diseases, which ensure a painful and unwanted sequence that ends in death.

It can cause lung diseases such as bronchitis, emphysema, COPD, and even lung cancer. It also affects the heart and is the prime factor for heart attack and stroke. Smoking also adversely affects the digestive system.

Contents of cigarette smoke are very hazardous and can give rise to serious consequences. Yet, people continue to smoke and it makes you wonder, why people smoke.

The trouble with smoking is that it not only endangers the health of the smoker but also drains his finances and has adverse social problems.

Effects of tobacco smoking on the health of the body

Any minor vice, be it alcohol or smoking has side effects, which are seen immediately and certain side effects, which are seen long-term.

Minor effects

  • The smoker emits a bad odor – a foul smell.
  • He loses the sense of taste because cigarette smoke destroys the taste buds.
  • His teeth and fingers get stained.
  • Smoking affects the health of your teeth and gums, which leads to tooth loss.
  • The smoker is at higher risk of developing a cataract.
  • He experiences increased attacks of cold and cough, which require a relatively long recovery time.


Addiction is the first thing that the smoker is exposed to. The nicotine present in cigarette tobacco is as addictive as heroin. Once addicted, the smoker becomes a regular and is vulnerable to more dangers.

Weight loss

Smoking is an appetite suppressant, which leads to the loss of weight.  It also increases the metabolic rate and decreases metabolic efficiency and the absorption of calories, which reduces appetite.

The nicotine in tobacco also lowers insulin levels in a person’s blood, which reduces the cravings for sugary foods.

A heavy smoker burns up to 200 calories a day, which is another contributory factor to weight loss.

Smoking and diabetes

Active smokers are at a 30% to 40% higher risk of developing diabetes mellitus type 2 than nonsmokers. The more you smoke, the higher the risk.

If the smoker already has diabetes, it makes it more difficult to control the condition.

The diabetic smoker significantly increases his chances of developing diabetes complications such as

  • Heart and kidney diseases
  • Retinopathy
  • Foot ulcers that do not heal and that could lead to amputation
  • Peripheral vascular disease
  • Erectile dysfunction

Smoking damages the brain

By using detailed MRI brain scans and careful image analysis, scientists in Edinburgh and Montreal found that smokers have a thinner cortex than nonsmokers.

Cortex also called the cerebrum, is the most developed part of the brain and is also referred to as the gray matter. It is responsible for higher brain functions such as thinking, perceiving, producing, and understanding language. Smoking suppresses these cognitive functions.

Smoking effects on heart and blood pressure (cardiovascular system)

The nicotine in cigarette smoke raises your heart rate and blood pressure. It damages the walls of the arteries, hardens them, narrows their lumen, and makes you more prone to clot formation in the blood.

It causes deposits of cholesterol plaques on the inner walls of the blood vessels leading to less blood supply. This is called atherosclerosis.

The nicotine and carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke causes a temporary rise in the heart rate and blood pressure. Over time, this causes an additional strain on the heart.

Smoking does this by constricting the blood vessels and also by causing atherosclerosis. This leads to clot formation.

This can narrow and even occlude the arterial lumen leading to reduced or loss of blood supply. All these factors increase the load on the heart making you a potential candidate for heart attack and stroke.

The average smoker who smokes 30 cigarettes per day is 4 to 6 times more likely of having heart disease if he’s in the 45-54 year age group.

Smoking can cause peripheral vascular disease due to the reduced blood supply to peripheral parts of the body like the fingers and toes. It can later lead to gangrene in the peripheral parts of the extremities.


Nicotine in tobacco smoke adversely affects the neuromuscular junctions, causing tremors and shaking. Smoking reduces the blood flow to the extremities and one puff lowers the temperature in the fingertips by 1ºF to 3ºF within 3 minutes.

Smoking and cancer

Smoking is the leading cause of cancer worldwide. Tobacco smoke contains more than 50 carcinogens and is the cause of cancer deaths in 30% of cancer cases in developed countries. 90% of lung cancers are caused by tobacco smoking.

Smoking can cause cancer of the lung, mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, and pancreas. About 10% of smokers die of cancer, and the heavier you smoke greater the risk.

Smoking effects on the lungs

Smoking reduces lung function and causes breathlessness due to swelling and narrowing of the lung airways due to the formation of excess mucus in the lung passages.

Smokers are at a higher risk of developing lung cancer, COPD (bronchitis and emphysema), and bronchial asthma.

Smoking causes 84% of deaths from lung cancer and 83% of deaths from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Lung cancer incidence in smokers is proportional to the number of cigarettes smoked per day and increases much more rapidly with the years of smoking.

Effect of smoking on the digestive system

Smokers develop acid reflux that leads to heartburn and GERD. This puts them at a greater risk of developing ulcers.

Smoking also reduces the efficacy of the liver, making the metabolism of alcohol, drugs, and other toxins that much less effective. These toxins then build up and cause other problems.

Smoking increases your chances of developing Crohn’s disease and gallstones. People who smoke are also at a greater risk of developing colon polyps.

Smoking effects on skin

Smoking causes wrinkles on the skin and makes a smoker look older than he is. Smoke that is inhaled contains more carbon monoxide depriving every part of the body including the skin, of oxygen.

This causes dry skin and age spots on the skin and the skin begins to look sallow. Smoking also uses a lot of vitamin C, which is responsible for preserving the collagen tissue of the skin.

Deprivation of vitamin C leads to loss of the plum appearance of the skin giving it an aged look. The physical act of inhaling also causes wrinkles around the eyes and mouth.

Smoking effects on the fertility

Smokers, either men or women have reduced fertility. Male smokers take a longer time to make their women pregnant due to lower sperm count and sperm motility problems, hormonal issues, and erectile dysfunction.

Women smokers will have difficulty conceiving due to ovulation problems, damage to the eggs and the reproductive system, and premature menopause. If you conceive, smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of miscarriage.

Secondhand smoke decreases your chances to conceive equally badly as if you were smoking yourself. Stay away from tobacco smoke and discourage your partner from smoking.

Stopping smoking improves your chances manifold of the man making his woman pregnant or the woman getting pregnant

The effect of smoking on male impotence

Erectile dysfunction is common in men over 40 years of age. But, for men under the age of 40 years, smoking is the foremost cause of erectile dysfunction.

As explained earlier, the nicotine in tobacco smoke causes reduced blood supply to the various parts of the body, including the penis due to the narrowing of the arteries and an increased risk of atherosclerosis.

Erection depends on good blood flow into the penile arteries. Due to the reduced blood supply, the effect of smoking results in reduced penile erection and erectile dysfunction.

Smoking and pregnancy

The effects of smoking during pregnancy can cause the following complications.

  • The birth weight of the baby is less than normal.
  • Miscarriages, which can lead to habitual abortions
  • Complications during delivery
  • The fetus may have a retarded growth.