Smoking is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in Australia. There are many harmful health effects of cigarette smoking. 

What is nicotine addiction?

Nicotine is a highly addictive substance. It makes the brain release a chemical called dopamine which is a chemical that makes one feel happy. It also helps individuals concentrate and helps them feel more energetic. This effect is very short lived and as the body feels the level fade it craves more dopamine. This results in having to smoke more as your body gets more dependent on it. 

The addiction is concerning as once you are dependent on it, without the high you will feel withdrawal symptoms like lack of concentration, restlessness, irritability and anxiety.

Harmful effects of smoking tobacco

Smoking is harmful to almost every part of your body and increases the risk of many diseases. Within 10 seconds of your first puff, the chemicals in tobacco smoke reach the brain, heart and other organs. These toxins go where the blood flows causing damage on their way.  

There are many smoke related concerns for individuals. A tobacco smoke contains over 7,000 chemicals, with at least 250 of those are harmful including carcinogens. These are toxic and create havoc on the body leading to various diseases and conditions. 

Smoking causes lung damage. The tissue loss which occurs is never retrieved. The damage makes you more susceptible to certain infections and lung disease. 

Smoking has been found to be the leading cause of lung cancer, accounting for nearly 85% of cases. This is due to the presence of tobacco smoke in the cells lining the lungs damaging them and allowing for abnormal cell growth resulting in cancerous tumors. 

Smoking increases the risk of cardiovascular health like heart disease, stroke and heart attack. The chemical in tobacco smoke damages the blood vessels, leading to build up of plaque and narrowing of arteries, constricting the blood flow to organs. 

Another consequence of smoking is damaged airways causing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), including chronic bronchitis. Inhaling the smoke irritates and inflames the airways, causing long term damage to lung tissue. This impairs the respiratory function.

The long term effect of smoking can also be on the vision. It can affect the optic nerve and lead to developing certain conditions. These can include glaucoma, in which the pressure in the eye increases putting pressure on the optic nerve causing loss of sight. Furthermore cloudy vision and age related macular degeneration are other risks in people who smoke.

There are health issues linked to smoking such as some types of cancer like throat cancer, mouth cancer, bladder cancer and cervical cancer. Other effects are infertility, erectile dysfunction and a compromised immune system.

Females who are pregnant and continue to smoke are at an increased risk of miscarriage, premature birth and low birth weight babies at birth. There is also an increased risk of ectopic pregnancy, stillbirth and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). 

Financial harm

The packs of smokes are quite costly and individuals who may smoke a high amount can look at $100 or more. The cost of the smoke cartons apart, the healthcare costs associated with treating smoking related illness are significant and strain the healthcare system by diverting resources away from other critical areas. There is also the loss of productivity or work due to a related illness of smoking. 

Environmental harm

The damage smoking does to the environment is also important to consider. Cigarette butts, which have plastic filters and harmful chemicals, are thrown as litter everywhere. They don’t break down naturally and can harm animals, dirty water, and make the environment worse

What is second hand smoke?

The harmful effects of smoking create consequences for not only the smoker but those exposed to secondhand smoke. Many of the toxins found in the smoke taken by the smoker are still present and inhaled by those around you who do not smoke but are still affected health wise. The serious health problems caused in non-smokers are lung cancer, heart disease and respiratory illness especially in children and non-smoking adults exposed to tobacco smoke.

Vape/pipe better than cigarette?

Tobacco smoking is harmful to health, there is no safe way to inhale it. Pipes contain tobacco and the various chemicals present in cigarette. Therefore by replacing the cigarette with a pipe the health risks will not be avoided. A vape has no tobacco however it has nicotine and other harmful substances which do not make it a better alternative.

Quit now

The damage of smoking can last for many years however many health risks can be reduced or reversed by quitting smoking. There are many health benefits to quitting smoking. Individuals can begin their smoking cessation through the many ways to successfully quit smoking.

There are tobacco control measures including cessation programs, advertising restrictions, public education and tobacco tax in hopes to curb smoking in most. Individuals wanting to embark on this journey should consult a health professional about the best way to begin smoking cessation.

Consult a doctor