06/14/2022   Chris Preston

Smoking – Health Effects, Risks, Addiction, Quitting, and Treatment

Tobacco has existed for centuries, but what we know about the health damage from smoking is much newer. For example, smokers tend to die more than ten years earlier than people who do not smoke. You could improve your health by choosing to quit smoking.

How to Quit Smoking

Is smoking bad for your health?

Since at least the 1950s, health experts have related smoking to lung cancer. Research continues to identify more ways tobacco harms your health, from cancers to chronic (long-term) diseases.

Experts estimate that 16 million Americans are living with a disease caused by smoking. Every year, roughly 480,000 people die from smoking-associated diseases. That means that for every person who dies from smoking, at least thirty others live with a serious smoking-related illness.

Are other forms of tobacco safer?

Most people think that smoking a cigar is safer than smoking a cigarette. But, cigar smokers face many of the same possible risks as cigarette smokers, including cancer. Chewing tobacco or smokeless tobacco products aren’t safer than cigarettes, either. Smokeless tobacco contains almost thirty cancer-causing chemicals.

E-cigarettes (vapes), an emerging form of nicotine delivery, vary from traditional tobacco products. Vaping provides more concentrated nicotine than cigarettes in a smokeless inhaled mist (vapor). The health risks from vape products range from asthma to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and cancer.


How does smoking affect your body?

Tobacco use harms all organs in your body. Smoking tobacco introduces not only nicotine but also more than 5,000 chemicals, involving numerous carcinogens (cancer-causing chemicals), within your lungs, blood, and organs.

The damage caused by smoking could shorten your lifespan significantly. In reality, smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States.

Pregnant women who smoke also put their unborn babies at risk, too. Potential effects on pregnancy include:

  • Ectopic pregnancy is a life-threatening state when the embryo implants outside the uterus.
  • Miscarriages.
  • Stillbirths.
  • Birth defects, like cleft palate.
  • Low birth weight.

Why is Smoking Bad

How does chewing tobacco affect your health?

Smokeless tobacco could cause nicotine addiction. People who use chewing tobacco might develop cancers of the mouth, esophagus, and pancreas. And chewing tobacco leads to gum disease, tooth decay, and tooth loss.

Is vaping safer than smoking a cigarette?

The safety and dangers of e-cigarettes remain uncertain. Many e-cigarettes have high amounts of nicotine. And vaping might be a gateway into other forms of nicotine, like cigarettes or chewing tobacco.

E-cigarette vapors have other damaging substances, too. Inhaling these non-nicotine vape ingredients may cause severe, sometimes deadly lung damage (known as EVALI).

How are health problems from tobacco diagnosed?

Diagnosis depends upon your specific symptoms. For example, a smokeless tobacco user who develops stomach cancer from swallowing juice with nicotine in it will require different tests than a person who inhales the smoke.

If you smoke, your healthcare provider will ask for details about your tobacco use, physically examine you and sometimes order tests (such as an X-ray to check for organ damage or an electrocardiogram and other heart-associated tests).

What other conditions may be caused or worsened by tobacco?

In addition to its known cancer risks, smoking causes many other chronic (long-term) health issues that need ongoing care. Specific smoking-associated problems that need treatment include:

  • Reduced HDL (good) cholesterol and increased blood pressure (increasing risks for heart attack and stroke).
  • Erectile dysfunction.
  • Lower oxygen to the heart and other tissues inside the body (increasing risks for coronary artery disease, peripheral artery disease, and diabetes).
  • More frequent routine illnesses like colds, particularly in children living with smokers.
  • Poorer lung function (ability to get enough oxygen) results in COPD, asthma, bronchitis, or emphysema.

How could a disease caused by smoking be treated?

Most diseases caused by smoking could be managed by a healthcare provider. You may need:

  • A cardiologist (heart doctor) to treat any damage to the heart.
  • A lung specialist to treat breathing problems, such as COPD.
  • An oncology team to treat any cancers you might develop.

How can I avoid getting sick from smoking?

The best way to avoid getting sick from smoking is to never begin. If you do smoke, quitting as soon as possible could prevent or reverse health problems. Without smoking, you could:

  • Live longer.
  • Reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Minimize your risk of developing a variety of other conditions.
  • Feel healthier and have more energy.
  • Look and feel better.
  • Improve your sense of taste and smell.
  • Save money.

How can I quit smoking?

There are several different ways to quit smoking. To achieve this, you have to find a smoking cessation plan that works for your personality. You should be prepared emotionally and mentally. You should want to quit smoking for yourself and not just for your family or friends exposed to your secondhand smoke.

When you decide to quit, these pointers could help:

  • Get rid of all cigarettes and anything related to smoking, such as lighters and ashtrays.
  • Living with another smoker? Tell them not to smoke near you or convince them to quit with you.
  • When the cravings hit, do not focus on them. Cravings are temporary, so concentrate on why you want to quit instead.
  • Keep yourself busy and find stuff to do with your hands — doodling or playing with a pencil or straw. Change any activities linked to smoking, too. Take a walk or read a book rather than taking a cigarette break.
  • If you get the urge to smoke, take a deep breath. Hold it for ten seconds and release it gradually. Repeat this several times till the urge to smoke is gone. You could also try meditation to reduce baseline stress levels.
  • Stay away from places, people and situations you associate with smoking. Hang out with nonsmokers or go places that do not allow smoking (like movies, museums, shops, or libraries).
  • Do not replace food or sugar-based products with cigarettes. These could cause weight gain. Instead, opt for low-calorie, healthy foods. Try carrot or celery sticks, sugarless hard candies, or gum.
  • Drink plenty of liquids, but restrict alcoholic and caffeinated beverages. They could trigger urges to smoke.
  • Remind yourself that you are a nonsmoker and that you do not smoke.
  • Do not forget to exercise, because it has health benefits and helps you relax.

 What is Smoking Cessation

If I have been smoking for so long, is it too late to quit?

Smoking cessation, at all ages, will improve your health. Years of smoking damage could reverse with time.

When you quit, benefits occur almost immediately:

  • After twenty minutes, your blood pressure and heart rate drop, and the temperature of your hands and feet increases. Plus, you stop polluting the air.
  • After 8 hours, your blood will contain lower levels of carbon monoxide and higher levels of oxygen.
  • After 24 hours, your heart attack risk reduces.
  • After 48 hours, your nerve endings adjust to the absence of nicotine, and you start to regain your ability to taste and smell.
  • After two weeks to three months, your circulation improves, and you could tolerate more exercise.
  • After 1 to 9 months, your overall energy level increases, and you cough less. Furthermore, sinus congestion, fatigue, and shortness of breath decrease.
  • After one year, your risk of heart disease cuts in half compared to a present smoker.
  • After 5 to 15 years, your risk of stroke lowers to that of people who never smoked.
  • After ten years, your risk of dying from lung cancer drops to almost the same rate as a lifelong nonsmoker. Furthermore, you decrease the risk of other cancers.
  • After 15 years, your risk of heart disease ultimately reaches that of people who never smoked.

What help is there to quit smoking?

When you are ready to quit smoking, you have a lot of supportive resources to choose from. Medical clinics, local pharmacies, and support groups such as Nicotine Anonymous are ready to help you quit. Apps and websites provide encouragement and accountability when you try to quit.

Note - Choosing to quit smoking is a huge step toward living a healthy lifestyle. Though it might feel insurmountable, it is not. Quitting is the correct thing to do for your health.

If you or anyone you know is suffering from smoking, our expert providers at Vegas Health will take care of your health and help you recover.

Call us at (701)-551-5212 to book an appointment with our specialists.