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

Cigarette smoke contains over 4,000 chemicals that can cause harm to you and your baby. 

By smoking, or being around smokers during pregnancy, your baby is at higher risk of:

• Miscarriage
• Stillbirth
• Premature birth
• Low birth weight
• Lung and breathing problems for baby
• Baby born with heat defects
• Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)


The best thing you and your family can do for your baby’s health is to quit.

No matter where you are in your pregnancy, it is never too late to quit. Benefits of stopping smoking can be seen and felt immediately. Just one day after quitting your carbon monoxide levels will return to normal, meaning your baby starts getting the oxygen and nutrients it needs.

You will see so many benefits during and after pregnancy:

• Healthier placenta to feed and protect baby
• Baby’s organs develop better
• Baby born at the right time
• Baby grows stronger
• More oxygen to baby
• Healthier pregnancy

Advice for expectant parents

Giving up smoking is not always easy, but with the right support you can overcome any obstacles and the long-term benefits for you and your baby are worth it!

You are 4 times more likely to successfully quit smoking using a stop smoking service and Nicotine Replacement Therapy.

The best and safest way to stop smoking is to use Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT).

People often think nicotine is harmful to babies, however although it is addictive, it is  the 4,000 poisonous chemicals like tar and carbon monoxide in cigarettes that are causing harm to the baby. NRT is considered to be safe in pregnancy, as this does not contain any of these harmful chemicals. Other options available include gum, patches and tablets. 

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