Smoking damages your body and good health in numerous ways. In addition to the adverse health effects on the smoker, smoking harms a fetus and the people around a smoker. The cost of smoking in terms of health-care resources and other economic costs cannot be underestimated.
Heart and Blood Vessel Disease
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that smoking increases the risk of heart disease and stroke twofold to fourfold. Smoking causes blood vessel narrowing, which leads to reduced blood delivery to body tissues. Smoking also increases the risk for weakening and ballooning blood vessels, known as aneurysms. Rupture of an aneurysm can lead to stroke or sudden death.
A September 2003 report from CDC noted that 49 percent of current smokers have chronic bronchitis and 24 percent have emphysema. Among former smokers, 24 percent have emphysema and 26 percent have chronic bronchitis. The risk of dying from chronic obstructive lung disease, or COPD, is 12 to 13 times higher among smokers compared to nonsmokers.
Women smokers have higher rates of osteoporosis and hip fractures after menopause. According to a hallmark 1997 study published in "BMJ," 1 in 8 hip fractures among women is due to smoking. At age 60, the risk of hip fractures in female smokers is 17 percent higher than in nonsmokers and is 71 percent higher at age 80.
Cigarette smoke contains numerous chemicals, including more than 50 that are known to cause cancer, reports the American Lung Association. Smokers have higher rates of many kinds of cancer, including those of the lung, stomach, bladder, mouth and esophagus. Cigarette smoking is responsible for approximately 90 percent of lung cancer cases. The American Cancer Society reports that as of 2013, only about 16 percent of people with lung cancer survive 5 years or longer.
Secondhand smoke causes cancer and other disease. The American Cancer Society notes that secondhand smoke is responsible for more than 45,000 deaths due to heart disease and about 3,400 deaths due to lung cancer in nonsmokers in the U.S. each year. Children exposed to secondhand smoke have more ear infections and colds and an increased risk for sudden infant death syndrome, explains the American Lung Association.
Teeth, Mouth and Throat Problems
Stained teeth and reduced sensations of smell and taste are common among smokers. Smoking also increases the risk for cancers of the mouth, lips, tongue and throat roughly fivefold to tenfold, according to the medical text "Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention."
Women who smoke during pregnancy have a higher incidence of premature births, low-birthweight babies and stillbirths, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Women who smoke are also more likely to experience infertility.
Smoking and secondhand smoke are triggers for asthma attacks. Continuing to smoke with asthma can significantly worsen the condition and make it more difficult to control. Among preschool children, exposure to secondhand smoke increases the risk for developing asthma, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports.
The CDC estimates that smoking-related illnesses cost $96 billion annually and that the U.S. loses roughly $97 billion in productivity costs due to worker ailments related to smoking.
All of the negative health effects of smoking take a toll on life expectancy. Men who smoke die 13.2 years earlier than nonsmokers and women die 14.5 years earlier, the CDC warns.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Health Effects of Cigarette Smoking
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Cigarette Smoking-Attributable Morbidity --- United States, 2000
- American Lung Association: What's in a Cigarette
- American Lung Association: Lung Cancer Fact Sheet
- American Lung Association: General Smoking Facts
- American Dental Association: Smoking and Tobacco
- American Cancer Society: What in Tobacco Smoke Is Harmful?
- BMJ: A Meta-analysis of Cigarette Smoking, Bone Mineral Density and Risk of Hip Fracture -- Recognition of a Major Effect
- American Cancer Society: Secondhand Smoke
- Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention; David Schottenfeld and John G. Searle (eds.)