Dangers of smoking are numerous and well known. Over the last couple of decades, the targeted campaigns and government policies aimed at tackling this serious public health problem have informed the general public about the hazards and risks directly linked to this bad habit. Today, the harmful impact of smoking tobacco on the individual, society, economy and the environment are practically common knowledge. However, while these efforts have somewhat reduced the number of active smokers throughout the developed world, many of the developing and war-torn countries record chilling statistics related to the prevalence of smoking, especially among the teenage population.
What’s on this page?
The prevalence of smoking
To learn more about the numbers that testify to the dangers of smoking and spread of tobacco consumption, you can visit our smoking statistics page and get a glimpse of the bigger picture. From relatedness of smoking with serious illnesses such as cancer to statistics related to the EU countries and even to the annual revenue and economy of the global tobacco business, here you will find the often overlooked details backed by hard data, years of research and detailed documentation.
According to statistical research, roughly 19% of all adults in the UK are active smokers today, which is a very significant improvement from almost 50% of the population in the 1970s. Out of all active smokers in the United Kingdom, roughly 25% belong to the age group between 16 and 34 years of age.
Smoking and cancer
If you’re specifically interested in the direct link between smoking and cancer, you can check our page dealing specifically with this topic. There, we compiled the data that will help you grasp the true dangers of this bad habit, detailing the different forms of cancer that have been proven to be prevalent in active smokers, as well as the mechanism through which dozens of cancer-causing chemicals and compounds in tobacco smoke damage healthy cells, causing damage which ends up being replicated thus leading to cancer.
Second-hand (passive) smoking
But, as is known today, smoking doesn’t only harm the active smokers, but can also have a dramatic impact on the health of individuals exposed to second-hand smoke. For more information about these indirect dangers of smoking, you can check our dangers of passive smoking page and learn how dangerous exposure to tobacco smoke really is.
Sadly, second-hand smoke isn’t the only indirect damage posed by tobacco consumption. Children are the most vulnerable group when it comes to dangers of passive smoking, but even greater danger is posed to the children whose mothers were smoking during pregnancy. The medical community agrees that this is something that should be avoided at all costs since the presence of nicotine, carbon monoxide and other harmful compounds that are introduced into the organism through smoking are also passed from mother to her unborn baby via umbilical cord and placenta. Not only are these compounds harmful by themselves, but they also reduce the amount of oxygen available to the baby, thus increasing the risk of numerous very dangerous condition which can even lead to infant’s death. To learn more about these severe risks and dangers, visit our smoking and pregnancy page.
Importance of learning about the dangers of smoking
By learning more about the dangers of smoking, individuals can make informed and well-founded decisions about finally giving up their bad habit. For countless individuals, reading about these chilling facts was a sobering experience that served as an initial source of motivation and willpower to embark on the journey to a smoke-free and healthy life.
If you feel that you’re ready to put out your last cigarette, you can find many resources about the best ways to quit smoking or read some stop smoking success stories that are sure to get you inspired! But, if you are not lacking the willpower and determination, but still find quitting cigarettes harder than you think you might handle, you might be interested in consulting with your doctor about the possible use of stop smoking tablets that can help you cope with nicotine withdrawal and cravings.
No matter which path you choose, we wish you the best of luck on your journey to a healthy life.
How does smoking hurt my health?
Smoking affects different body parts in different ways. In the remainder of the text, we will shortly discuss the organs that are affected the most, providing you with a short overview of health complications that might occur as a result of your bad habit.
Heart and cardiovascular system
Smoking will significantly increase the levels of carbon monoxide in your body while simultaneously reducing the concentration of oxygen in your blood. In addition to this, other toxins present in cigarette smoke can also contribute to thickening of the blood, forcing your heart to work harder in order to efficiently pump the blood around your body.
In addition to this, nicotine also stimulates adrenal glands to synthesise and release adrenaline, creating the so-called nicotine rush that all smokers really crave. However, as a side effect of this process, adrenaline will also raise the heart rate and blood pressure, putting even greater strain on the cardiovascular system as a whole.
Finally, fine blood vessels, arteries will also become damaged because of smoking, becoming lined with an unhealthy mixture of fatty substances and scar tissue, restricting the blood flow to various organs. Smoker’s leg and erectile dysfunction can occur as consequences, but so could blood clots which can in turn lead to stroke, angina or heart attack.
Impact of smoking on the lungs
It is obvious that the organ impacted the most by smoking is certainly lungs. Not only is smoking the root cause of a vast majority of all documented lung cancer cases, but it is also tightly related to up to 80% of deaths caused by chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (or COPD for short). With damage to both lung cells’ DNA and lung tissue as a whole, smoking can contribute to other pulmonary conditions such as bronchitis or emphysema.
The digestive system
With thousands of harmful and cancer-causing compounds in tobacco smoke, it is no surprise that smoking can also lead to the development of cancer in the stomach, as well as in the kidneys, liver, oesophagus, colon, rectum and pancreas. Scientists estimate that around one in five cases of stomach cancer can be directly linked to smoking because when tobacco smoke is inhaled, parts of it reach the stomach, causing damage to the tissue and creating favourable conditions for tumour growth.
Impact of tobacco smoke on the mouth
Mouth is another body part that is directly influenced by smoking. Numerous studies have confirmed that active smokers have significantly greater chances of developing cancer in the mouth, lips, throat, neck, vocal cords or tongue. And according to the Mouth Cancer Foundation, smoking can be directly linked to 75% of all recorded mouth cancers.
In addition to this, smokers generally have bad breath, yellow teeth and reduced sensitivity of the sense of taste.
Skin and tobacco
While not directly affected like some other organs and parts of the body, skin too gets damaged by smoking. The majority of damage caused is due to decreased oxygen levels in the blood and different toxins that can give skin a pale-greyish and dried out appearance. In addition to this, with narrowing of the blood vessels, the skin will begin to wrinkle prematurely as it will be unable to get the required amount of oxygen and other important nutrients such as vitamins A and C.
Reproductive health and smoking
As mentioned before, men who smoke risk to get affected by erectile dysfunction problems, but also by testicular cancer. But, not only men are at risk – numerous studies confirmed that smoking has a measurable negative effect on fertility in women. In addition to this, women who smoke while pregnant significantly increase the risk of miscarriage.