Smoking and your health

Smoking and your health

Smoking is the leading preventable cause of death and illness worldwide. Smoking increases your risk of developing more than 50 serious health conditions that can cause irreversible long-term damage to your health and even death. You can become ill if you smoke yourself or through other people’s smoke (passive smoking or secondhand smoke)

Health risks

Smoking increases your risk of developing serious health conditions. You can become ill if you smoke yourself or through other people’s smoke (passive smoking or secondhand smoke).

Risks from smoking


  • causes about 90% of lung cancers as well as cancer in many other parts of the body including the mouth, lips, throat, voice box (larynx), oesophagus (the tube between your mouth and stomach), bladder, kidney, liver, stomach, pancreas
  • damages your heart and your blood circulation and may lead to the development of conditions such as coronary heart disease, heart attack, stroke, peripheral, vascular disease(damaged blood vessels), cerebrovascular disease(damaged arteries that supply blood to your brain)
  • damages your lungs, leading to conditions like chronic bronchitis (infection of the main airways in the lungs), emphysema(damage to the small airways in the lungs), pneumonia(inflammation in the lungs)
  • can worsen or prolong the symptoms of respiratory conditions, such as asthma, or respiratory tract infections, like the common cold
  • can cause impotence in men and can affect the fertility of both men and women

In addition, smoking:

  • makes your hair and clothes smell
  • stains your teeth and gives you bad breath
  • makes your skin dry and causes wrinkles earlier in life
  • can affect your sports routine – you won’t be able to run as fast or as far

People who breathe in secondhand smoke are at risk of getting the same health conditions as smokers, particularly lung cancer and heart disease. For example, breathing in secondhand smoke increases a non-smoker’s risk of developing lung cancer or heart disease by about 25%.

Smoking during pregnancy

courtesy of gasp publications
If you smoke when you’re pregnant, you put your unborn baby’s health at risk, as well as your own. Smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of complications, such as:

  • miscarriage
  • premature (early) birth 
  • a low birth weight baby
  • stillbirth

Smoking and Children

Babies and children exposed to cigarette smoke are:

  • at risk of developing respiratory infections and a chronic cough
  • if they have asthma, their symptoms will get worse 
  • at increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and glue ear