What are the health effects of cigarette smoking?

health effects of cigarette smoking
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Cigarette smoking affects almost all the organs of our body but mostly the lungs (respiratory system), circulatory system, reproductive health, skin, and eye health. It causes many diseases and reduces the health of smokers as well as passive smokers too.

Health effects of cigarette smoking

The carcinogenic chemicals in cigarettes not only harm you but those around you too.

What is a cigarette made up of?

Cigarettes are made from fried tobacco leaves and added flavors for pleasant smoking. It consists of thousands of chemicals like nicotine, hydrogen cyanide, formaldehyde, lead, arsenic, ammonia, carbon monoxide, benzene, and nitrosamines which are cancer-causing chemicals referred to as carcinogens. (1)

Out of 7000 harmful chemicals produced while smoking cigarettes, 69 of these chemicals are considered carcinogenic and very toxic to our body. Some of these chemicals include the following during smoking. (2)

  • Acetic acid – ingredients of hair dye
  • Ammonia – used as a household cleaner
  • Arsenic – used in rat poison
  • Benzene – found in gasoline
  • Carbon monoxide – released from car exhaust
  • Lead – used in batteries
  • Nicotine – used as insecticides

Does the filter in cigarettes serve its purpose?

Cigarette filters

No, it’s as same as smoking cigarettes without a filter. The purpose of a filter for the cigarette is for reducing the tar, toxins, and other foreign particles directly into your lungs. Besides being dangerous for a human being, the discarded and littered cigarette butts are harmful to the environment. (3)

6 Health Effects of cigarette smoking

In this article, we will look at 6 health effects of cigarette smoking.

1. Lung damage

While breathing in cigarette smoke, it enters the lungs first and then only the blood which circulates to the rest of the body.

There are about 8 out of 10 Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD) deaths due to smoking and 1 out of 10 students have asthma. As a teenager, the growth of lungs is affected and never performs at full capacity, thereby increasing the risk of COPD in later life. The common causes of cigarette smoking are tuberculosis, COPD, asthma, and lung cancer. (4)

A cigarette is responsible for risking your life by developing cancer and it is 25 times greater for men and 25.7 greater for women. (5)

2. Heart diseases

The blood cells are affected by smoking cigarettes.

Due to the chemicals present in cigarettes, the walls of the arteries will be sticky, where fatty particles stick to them. This can lead to heart attack and stroke. (6)

The chemicals present in cigarettes harmful to your heart are carbon monoxide, tar, and nicotine.

Every year, more than 440000 people in the United States were killed by diseases caused by smoking. Cigarette smokers are 2 to 4 times more likely to develop heart disease than non-smokers. (7)

Smoking causes an increase in blood pressure, an increase in heart-rate, reduced blood flow from the heart, increases the risk of blood clots, damages the blood vessels, and increases the risk of getting a stroke.

3. Type 2 diabetes

Inflammation caused by interference of normal function of body cells can decrease the effectiveness of insulin. This can ultimately increase the risk of getting diabetes.

According to the studies, smokers are 30 to 40 percent vulnerable than non-smokers with regards to acquiring type 2 diabetes. Smokers may need more insulin to regulate blood sugar levels because the insulin present in the body is made ineffective due to the presence of nicotine. (8)

Smoking expands the danger of acquiring diabetes and micro and macrovascular difficulties of diabetes mellitus. Smoking is related to insulin resistance, inflammation, and dyslipidemia, yet the specific instruments through which smoking impacts diabetes mellitus are not satisfactory. Nonetheless, smoking discontinuance is one of the significant focuses on diabetes control. (9)

4. Weakens immune system

Many studies have been carried out to show how smoking cigarettes weakens our immune system, contributes to developing COPD, and many other lung diseases.

An innate and adaptive immune response will be decreased, making our body susceptible to viruses like coronavirus and invites many other diseases. (10) An immuno-compromised person is much more prone to fungal infection like Mucormycosis a.k.a Black fungal infection.

Researchers have found that smokers are more likely to develop gum disease than non-smokers due to the weakening of immune responses. Complex functions of tobacco smoke have brought about various sicknesses, including cardiovascular, respiratory, and immune system infections, sensitivities, tumors and relocate dismissal, and so on.

Past surveys have portrayed the impacts of smoking on different sicknesses and territorial invulnerability related to explicit illnesses, a thorough and refreshed audit is infrequently observed to exhibit effects of smoking on broad resistance and, particularly on significant segments of safe cells.

Also read: Top 5 Best Immunity-boosting fruits

5. Fertility problems

It is with no secret that, smoking is dangerous to health and a producer even advertises the warning. Surveyors have found out that only 30 percent of the surveyed childbearing age women knew about the risk of miscarriage due to smoking cigarettes. This shows that some of the women populations are not aware of the effects of smoking on fertility. (11)

Even though the large scale studies on the relationship between smoking and infertility lacks behind, it is suggested through some studies and literature focused on semen analysis, men with infertility and those having difficulty in conceiving should avoid smoking in order to increase the chances of getting conceived and lead a happy parenthood life. (12)

The consequences related to smoking on female fertility and reproductive include conception delay and ovarian follicular depletion. On men, consequences include sperm density reduction and motility. As per the experimental and epidemiological data, about 13% of infertility in the whole population is attributable to cigarette smoking. (13)

6. Poor oral hygiene

Most of the people these days know that smoking cigarette is injuries to health.

Do you know that it is also harmful to your dental health? Dental health includes mouth, gums, and teeth!

Smoking leads to tooth loss, gums disease, tooth staining, and mouth cancer in severe cases. Staining of teeth is caused due to the presence of nicotine and tar in the cigarettes.

Smokers are more likely to develop bacterial plaque, leading to gums disease.


This article is intended for general information only. It does not address individual circumstances or is not a substitute for any professional advice. You are hereby advised to take concrete decisions after the following advice from medical or nutritionist professionals.


  1. American Cancer Society, https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-causes/tobacco-and-cancer/carcinogens-found-in-tobacco-products.html
  2. American Lung Association, https://www.lung.org/quit-smoking/smoking-facts/whats-in-a-cigarette
  3. Queensland Health, Queensland Government, https://www.health.qld.gov.au/news-events/news/whats-in-a-cigarette-smoke-tobacco-smoking-chemicals
  4. Surgeon General’s Report on smoking and health (1964-2014), Smoking and Respiratory diseases. Published on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/sgr/50th-anniversary/pdfs/fs_smoking_respiratory_508.pdf
  5. Medical News Today, How does smoking affect the body? https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324644
  6. British Heart Foundation, How does smoking increase my risk of heart and circulatory disease? https://www.bhf.org.uk/informationsupport/risk-factors/smoking
  7. Johns Hopkins Medicine, Smoking and cardiovascular disease. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/smoking-and-cardiovascular-disease
  8. Cigarette smoking: A risk factor for type 2 diabetes. U.S Food and Drug Administration. https://www.fda.gov/tobacco-products/health-information/cigarette-smoking-risk-factor-type-2-diabetes
  9. Sang Ah Chang (2012), Smoking and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. Diabetes and Metabolism Journal. Vol. 36(6). Pg. 399-403. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3530709/
  10. Agnieszka Strzelak et. al., (May 2018). Tobacco Smoke Induces and Alters Immune Responses in the Lung Triggering Inflammation, Allergy, Asthma, and Other Lung Diseases: A Mechanistic Review. Department of Pediatric Pulmonology and Allergy, Medical University of Warsaw. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. https://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/15/5/1033/pdf
  11. Polen KN, Sandhu PK, Honein MA, et al. Knowledge and attitudes of adults towards smoking in pregnancy: results from the HealthStyles© 2008 survey. Matern Child Health J. 2015;19(1):144-54. doi:10.1007/s10995-014-1505-0.
  12. Kovac JR, Khanna A, Lipshultz LI, et al. The effects of cigarette smoking on male fertility. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4639396/
  13. Smoking and infertility published by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fertnstert.2004.05.004

By Sonam Tobgay

I'm the creator of Healthy Lifestyle blog. I've been fascinated with health related articles and information since 2005 and have spent most of my waking hours consuming health contents from the top professionals in this field. My goal is to share the best tips and news about health, benefits of fruits and vegetables, and other health related issues so you can follow and lead a healthy life.

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