Harm from smoking cigarettes: effects on the human body, consequences

Posted on Jul 27, 2022      17

The tobacco epidemic is one of the greatest threats to public health the world has ever faced.” - World Health Organization.

Cigarettes are harming us, hardly a surprise to anyone. Yet despite this, over 1 billion people in the world continue to smoke. The World Health Organization estimates that about 6 million people die each year from smoking, one in ten of whom are passive smokers. Cigarette smoking affects all organs of the body.

We’ve known for decades about the harms of smoking, but how do cigarettes harm us? What happens when their contents spread through our bodies and how our bodies benefit from quitting smoking? Let’s talk briefly about the harms of smoking, just the most important things.

Harm from smoking cigarettes: how it affects the human body

What does smoking cigarettes lead to? If you are an inveterate smoker, you risk dying at least 10 years earlier. 1-2 packs of cigarettes a day is a fatal dose of nicotine. The only saving grace is that you don’t smoke them all at once, but you “stretch out the pleasure”. And around the corner there are cancers of the lung, stomach, lips, larynx, tongue, etc. Amputation of the legs is not ruled out either.

In many developed countries, new cancer cases are detected every 1.5 minutes. 40% of all cancer cases in the world are smoking. In the first place is lung cancer. Next are prostate, bladder, penis, and kidney cancers. Why does this happen? Nicotine is excreted with urine, so anything along the way is negatively affected.

Worried? And rushed to relieve stress the usual way - with tobacco? No way. Nicotine will multiply the disorder. And “light” cigarettes won’t save you.

Let’s try to convince smokers to quit their nicotine addiction. What is the harm of smoking cigarettes?

What organs are most affected by tobacco?

What happens to the body while smoking cigarettes, and what are the consequences of this bad habit? There are no organs in the body that are not affected by smoking tobacco. The major consequence is lung cancer.

And there are other lung diseases as well. For example, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease - when a person can no longer get enough oxygen because the lungs are not working properly. There is no treatment for this disease. Smoking can also cause tuberculosis, bronchitis, and asthma.

Some people may be surprised, but stomach cancer is also caused by smoking, because a smoker swallows saliva with all the components of tobacco smoke. Certain chemical reactions take place in the stomach, changing its epithelium. This bad habit can cause gastritis and ulcers.

In addition, there is the possibility of developing malignant tumors of the oral mucosa - lips, larynx, tongue, those organs that are in direct contact with tobacco smoke.

Vessels also suffer: our body has a vascular network - from the tip of the nose to the fingertips. Because of smoking, substances are synthesized that damage the epithelium of the vascular wall, plus catecholamines are produced. They increase the concentration of lipids (blood fats) and contribute to the development of vascular atherosclerosis. The consequences are obvious: long-term smokers develop atherosclerosis of the lower extremities.

  • Smoking dramatically increases the risk of coronary heart disease and other cardiovascular diseases.
  • If there is a heavy smoker in the family, other members of that family get a bonus of an increased risk (by 30%) of cardiovascular disease.
  • Vision, hearing, smell, touch, and muscle tone deteriorate.

Heart attack is one more reason to quit smoking

The most powerful risk factor for heart attack, stroke, and atherosclerosis is smoking. This process causes damage to the walls of blood vessels. This damage includes fats and cholesterols and atherosclerotic plaque is formed. It blocks the vessel. And a heart attack is formed - the necrosis of the heart muscle in the area where the blood flow has stopped.

Smoking is a disease, with deadly consequences. It leads to the suppression of so many vital functions.

How Stroke and Smoking Are Related

Smokers have twice the risk of dying from a stroke.

1. First, smoking increases blood pressure and decreases oxygen levels in the blood.

2. Second, toxic chemicals from tobacco smoke are deposited on the lungs or absorbed into the bloodstream, damaging blood vessels.

3. And third, exposure to nicotine and other toxic substances in tobacco smoke significantly changes the quality of the blood. Its viscosity increases, which leads to the development of atherosclerosis.

And all of this increases a person’s risk of stroke.

They say that smoking helps relieve stress. Is this true?

This is a profound misconception. The stress hormones adrenaline and noradrenaline increase during smoking. Inhaling a cigarette, on the contrary, stimulates the development of stress in the body.

The smoker concentrates on the cigarette, distracting himself from his problems - so there is a sense of relaxation, but in fact it is only a temporary break from the pressing problems. It’s like a child being distracted when he’s crying, asking for a toy. But a little later, he will remember it. Drinking a cup of tea with friends can have the same effect, and yet it does no harm.

One more thing. Some people say that when I smoke, I think better. In fact, it is proved: when you smoke; the body receives more carbon dioxide than oxygen, so that brain capacity to think is noticeably reduced, because its blood vessels are narrowed.

It is proved by experiments: after smoking a cigarette, concentration and reaction are much reduced. I want to draw the attention of those who especially like to smoke while driving.

“Light” cigarettes are less harmful?

This is a misconception. Take a pack of “light” cigarettes and a pack of “strong” cigarettes and compare the amount of nicotine and tar. The amount of nicotine will be slightly less in the “light” cigarettes.

And this is with equal amounts of tar, as well as other harmful substances, including radioactive substances that are released with the smoke. Many smokers know this, but psychologically block these “uncomfortable” facts, convincing themselves: “I smoke ‘light’ cigarettes.”

Plus, scientists at the Medical University of South Carolina found that “light” cigarettes do not reduce the risk of lung cancer compared to regular cigarettes.

How Smoking Affects the Human Brain

It is common knowledge that smoking tobacco is a major risk factor for various cancers, also lung and cardiovascular disease, infertility, complications during pregnancy, and an increased likelihood of cataracts. But less is known about how smoking affects the human brain. Why does cigarette addiction occur?

Every time a person lights a cigarette, nicotine and other chemicals in cigarette smoke enter the lungs. From there, nicotine enters the bloodstream and reaches the brain faster than drugs injected through a vein. This means that after 7-10 seconds nicotine stimulates the nervous system and, as a result, certain chemical messengers are released, i.e. hormones and neurotransmitters.

The first thing that happens is the release of adrenaline, which causes an increase in blood pressure, heart rate, difficulty breathing and an increase in blood glucose levels, i.e. sugar in the blood that feeds the cells. This release of glucose gives the initial burst of energy and suppresses hunger.

Nicotine also activates the same reward pathways in the brain as other drugs, such as cocaine and amphetamines, though to a lesser degree. It causes a temporary surge of dopamine in the brain’s reward circuits, which causes feelings of pleasure, relaxation, and release of tension.

The pleasurable sensations that a person experiences from smoking arise quickly, but they also disappear quickly. So the smoker soon reaches for a new cigarette.

And after you have smoked a few times, the nicotine weakens your ability to feel this pleasure, causing dependence and making you need more and more nicotine.

Smoking is also associated with a marked decrease in levels of monoamine oxidase, the important enzyme responsible for breaking down dopamine. Therefore, one does not feel the same euphoria as with the first cigarette.

Cognitive abilities

Nicotine temporarily enhances attention and memory, yet prolonged smoking is associated with cognitive impairment.

According to studies that have examined the long-term effects of smoking, this bad habit can cause thinning of the cerebral cortex, which is crucial for cognition. The cortex handles important functions such as memory, language, perception, attention and spatial thinking.

The cortex, of course, things with normal aging on its own, but smoking speeds up this process.

But it is unclear whether nicotine or other chemicals found in cigarettes are direct catalysts of cortical thinning. These effects may also be related to the deterioration of the lungs because of smoking, which prevents the flow of oxygen, and the lack of this vital element may be what harms the cerebral cortex.

Secondhand smoke and its effects on health

Is Secondhand Smoke Dangerous? As far back as the pre-war years, the harm of secondhand smoke was identified. Even today, the World Health Organization has listed secondhand smoke as an official carcinogen.

If a parent smoked in the family and his authority is high, the child cannot pass cigarettes.

If the person next to you smokes and you inhale what they exhale, it has been proven to provoke lung cancer, coronary heart disease in adults, sudden infant death syndrome and asthma in children, fetal growth retardation. Smokers pose an enormous risk to children.

There is also tertiary smoking, which is being in a smoky room. It would seem that the smoke has gone out, but the products of combustion are still on the table, on the surface. When you touch these surfaces and later touch your face, this is tertiary smoking and is also a carcinogen.

How to quit smoking

Many smokers have tried many times to give up cigarettes, but without success. There is no miracle pill. But it is possible. The main thing is that the person himself wanted to quit smoking, and not someone pressured him.

The first thing you should do is :

  • Remove all ashtrays.
  • Cigarettes.
  • Lighters.
  • You must forbid smoking in the house and in the car.

You must first arrange for yourself to have these conditions. The main thing is that there are no smokers in sight and no reminders about smoking. Set a date when you will definitely quit smoking - this will help psychologically.

Nicotine addiction (like other addictions) is a mental disorder.

Overcoming tobacco addiction is very difficult, so it is better to seek help from a doctor. If you go to the doctor and follow his recommendations, the chance of quitting smoking will increase. There are many remedies in the arsenal of medics. Physiological dependence can be defeated with medications that replace nicotine. And psychotherapy methods can get rid of psychological addiction.

One reason to quit smoking can be the cost of cigarettes. Have you ever wondered how much money the average smoker spends per year, and where you could spend the amount saved? The infographic below will help you figure it out.

What would happen to your body if you quit smoking right now

A person who quits smoking can experience unpleasant consequences. This is primarily withdrawal syndrome. A former smoker becomes angry, which prevents you from concentrating on something and causes problems with sleep.

It will be hardest to get through the first three days and after a few weeks, all symptoms will disappear. Some people may get depressed, and as a result will come and overweight, but these are trifles compared to the benefits that will bring the cessation of smoking.

The harm of smoking for men

How does smoking affect the potency? The length of the penis during erection is reduced by an average of 1-2 mm for every year of smoking. Smoking causes atherosclerosis and narrowing of the arteries. And the male penis is a system of blood bodies that inflates. And if there are problems with vasoconstriction, it doesn’t strain to its maximum capacity.

Also, smoking causes low libido. The libido is the sex drive, what draws a man to a woman and a woman to a man. Smoking lowers libido.

Smoking is inhaling the products of burning tobacco, about 7,000 different substances, not at all healthy, to get into the human body. And some of these substances affect our blood vessels, our arteries, in such a way that the arteries are constantly in a state of chronic spasm. They pass significantly less blood than they should.

The arterial walls are also damaged. You get atherosclerotic plaques there. And because the blood vessels of the male penis have a small diameter, their just defeat occurs much earlier than the damage to the coronary vessels or cerebral vessels. Atherosclerosis causes erectile dysfunction. Impotence is a precursor of heart attack.

Harm of smoking for women: consequences

According to statistics, one in ten women smokes. Is it dangerous for infertility?

Women’s eggs are laid at birth and are not renewed. If the fairer sex damages this genetic material by smoking, drinking alcohol, drugs, then they pass it to the child “in a tainted state”, and the latter, in his turn, to his descendants.

It turns out that with each new generation, the risk of cancer and genetic mutations increases. Today obstetricians-gynecologists often notice the connection of infertility not just with smoking, but with hookah smoking, smoking mixes. It’s sad when you see a woman with a cigarette, and even sadder when she’s pregnant.

Don’t forget that women who smoke have a 30-70% higher risk of miscarriage.

Smoking also affects beauty. Nails take on a yellowish tint and become brittle. The skin loses elasticity and moisture and ages faster.

3 reasons to quit a bad habit today

1. One or two packs of cigarettes contain a lethal dose of nicotine. The only thing that saves the smoker is that this dose is introduced into the body not all at once, but in portions.

2. The average smoker takes 200 puffs a day. He inhales about 7000 chemical compounds.

3. Persistent tobacco addiction develops after 3 months of smoking (for women - more quickly).

Harm from hookah smoking

Let’s say at once: hookah is harmful to health. Its lovers assure that the smoke from hookahs does not contain dangerous substances, because it passes through the water. Yes, studies have shown that some harmful compounds remain in the water. But not all of them.

Hookah smokers are also mistaken in thinking that they inhale only herbal smoke. Nicotine is also present there. Hence, addiction is formed. By the way, scientists have already proved that hookah addiction causes lung cancer. Toxins, tar, etc. enter the body.

And another thing. It turns out that after smoking, hookah can get hepatitis, tuberculosis and HIV. The explanation is simple: the pipe is used by many people.

So do not believe when you are assured of the harmlessness of hookah. While the soft aroma and gentle smoke clouds the eyes, experts say: hookah smokers inhale as many substances as contained in four packs of cigarettes. Whether to smoke - it’s up to you to decide.

Cigarettes are harmful to the environment

Cigarettes are very harmful to the environment. Every year about 5 million hectares of forest are cut down for tobacco production. Millions of kilograms of cigarette butts are thrown into the environment every year.

About 5-7% of forest fires are caused by discarded cigarette butts. And cigarette smoke affects both the plant life and the surrounding people.

The most common story about smoking cigarettes

Many people have probably heard the story about the grandfather who drank a liter of vodka a day and smoked tobacco all his life and died at 95.

First, he died at 95, but maybe he was born with 130, so he has shortened his life all the same. Second, there are certain genetic defenses. For example, there’s genetics in which a person will drink a bottle of vodka a day and he’ll never get cirrhosis of the liver. And there is also genetics that protect against smoking. But those are the few. It’s silly to count on that.

And even if your direct relatives were so protected, that doesn’t mean the gene will be passed on to you, your children or grandchildren might have it. You never know. Why do you need this Russian roulette? Smoking is a deadly chronic disease that relapses.


Smoking negatively affects the overall condition of the human body, including the brain, provoking its rapid deterioration and premature aging. It is very important not to start or, if you already smoke, quit this bad habit.

You can give your life to your country, for your family, but for a cigarette it’s at least stupid. Quit smoking and everything will be fine.