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Negative Effects of Cigarette Smoke or Second-Hand Smoke

author image Leah DiPlacido, Ph.D.
Leah DiPlacido, a medical writer with more than nine years of biomedical writing experience, received her doctorate in immunology from Yale University. Her work is published in "Journal of Immunology," "Arthritis and Rheumatism" and "Journal of Experimental Medicine." She writes about disease for doctors, scientists and the general public.
Negative Effects of Cigarette Smoke or Second-Hand Smoke
Smoking damages health, your social life and your finances. Photo Credit Thinkstock/Stockbyte/Getty Images


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), smoking is the leading preventable cause of death. The CDC reports that, on average, a smoker dies 13 to 14 years earlier than non-smokers; they die from cancer, heart disease, and lung diseases such as emphysema, chronic airway obstruction and bronchitis. Beyond health effects, there are negative effects including financial and social factors. Furthermore, smoking does not just affect the smoker; secondhand smoke negatively affects family, friends and associates.

Health Effects

Cigarette smoke and secondhand smoke, not surprisingly, have negative effects on one's health. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) reports that 438,000 deaths are attributed to cigarette smoking each year; an additional 38,000 deaths are caused by secondhand smoke. According to MedlinePlus, an online medical encyclopedia associated with the National Institutes of Health, cigarette smoke has the potential to harm nearly every organ in the body. A staggering 87 percent of lung cancers would disappear if every person in the U.S. stopped smoking. The NCI reports that smoking is linked to multiple other types of cancer, including cervix, bladder, kidney, pancreas, mouth and throat. Cigarette smoking also causes severe damage to the heart and the cardiovascular system. The American Heart Association (AHA) reports that smokers are two to three time more likely to die from coronary heart disease compared with nonsmokers. Smoking and secondhand smoke puts the birth of healthy children at risk by causing infertility, preterm delivery, stillbirth, low birth weight and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), according to the CDC. Smoking also has negative cosmetic effects, such as tar-stained teeth and yellow-tinted skin.

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Social Effects

Smoking can have negative social effects as well. Non-smokers generally try to avoid inhaling secondhand smoke; thus smoking may serve as a social barrier. Smoking is also banned indoors in many places. An article published by CNNhealth.com by Theresa Tamkins in September 2009 indicates that 32 states have some type of smoking ban that prohibits smoking in public places and/or buildings. Many European countries have similar bans, including England, Scotland, France, Ireland, and Norway, according to the CNNhealth.com article. These types of bans can have pervading negative social effects, isolating the smokers outside and away from the group.

Financial Effects

The negative effects of cigarette smoke have a detrimental financial effect, both on the smoker and the family. The high price of cigarettes these days make a significant dent in the family's finances. Additionally, smokers tend to have more health problems that cost money to medically treat. Smoking also costs the general public money: the CDC estimates that cigarette smoking costs the U.S. more than $193 billion, including money in lost productivity (due to illness and death), and money used for health care that the smoker is unable to pay for himself. Secondhand smoke also has negative financial effects: the health costs for secondhand smoke-related illnesses cost an estimated $10, according to the CDC.

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