Did you know that smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the country? But people keep on puffin’ anyway. In fact, more than 4,000 Americans under age 18 start smoking cigarettes each day and 1,000 will become regular smokers.1 That’s despite the fact that they have been told over and over again how damaging it is to the human body. Wanna know how badly? More than one in five deaths in the United States is related to tobacco use. And get this, every six seconds, someone dies from a disease related to smoking.2 Approximately one person dies every six seconds due to tobacco and this accounts for one in 10 adult deaths. Up to half of current users will eventually die of a tobacco-related disease.2


Your heart begins to beat faster as soon as you light up, as much as 10 to 25 beats per minute. That adds up to 36,000 extra beats per day.9 The mixture of nicotine and carbon monoxide in each cigarette you smoke temporarily increases your heart rate and blood pressure, straining your heart and blood vessels.7 Cigarette smoking is directly responsible for at least 20% of all deaths from heart disease; that’s because smoking is a major cause of coronary artery disease.3 Smoking causes fat deposits to narrow and block blood vessels which leads to heart attack.7 Smokers are also two to four times more likely to develop coronary heart disease.4


Smoking causes injury to the airways and lungs, leading to a deadly lung condition. Smokers are more likely than nonsmokers to have upper and lower breathing tract infections. Smoking is related to chronic coughing, wheezing, and asthma among children and teens. Smoking is related to chronic coughing and wheezing among adults.5


Lung cancer is just one of the serious health risks caused by smoking. Men who smoke are ten times more likely to die from lung cancer than non-smokers.7 Smokers are also susceptible to cancers of the larynx, mouth, esophagus, bladder, pancreas, kidney, cervix and stomach.5


Smoking causes physical changes in the eyes that can threaten your eyesight. Nicotine from cigarettes restricts the production of a chemical necessary for you to be able to see at night. Also, smoking increases your risk of developing cataracts and macular degeneration (both can lead to blindness).Research has shown that smokers are about three times more likely to develop cataracts; a gradual thickening that develops in the lens of the eye. Smoke can also cause serious irritation for those who wear soft contact lenses.5

Nose & Throat

Irritating gases in cigarette smoke, such as formaldehyde, ammonia, hydrogen sulfide and others, can cause serious irritation to the sensitive membranes in the nose and throat. The results: a runny nose and the proverbial smoker’s cough. Continued exposure can produce abnormal thickening in the throat lining, a condition, when accompanied with cellular changes, that has been linked to throat cancer.8


Stained yellow teeth, bad breath and an acute loss in your sense of taste are just some of the less serious consequences of smoking. Smoking as well as the use of spit tobacco or “chew” can also contribute to cancer of the lips, gums and throat. Smokers have more oral health problems than non-smokers, like mouth sores, ulcers and gum disease. You are more likely to have cavities and lose your teeth at a younger age. You are also more likely to get cancers of the mouth and throat.6


The blood vessels in the skin constrict when you light up, limiting the amount of oxygen the skin gets. The intrusion of CO puts further limits on the oxygen the skin needs. What does this mean? Wrinkles. “Smoker’s face” is a condition long-term smokers suffer from. What does it look like? Deep, dark lines around the eyes and the corners of the mouth, for starters. The skin may also appear gray in color, and facial features may appear gaunt. Not a pretty sight. One study shows that nearly half of all smokers get smoker’s face.9

Male Reproductive System

Smoking increases the risk of erectile dysfunction—the inability to get or keep and erection. Toxins from cigarette smoke can also damage the genetic material in sperm, which can cause infertility or genetic defects in your children.6,9

Female Reproductive System

Women who smoke have a harder time getting pregnant and having a healthy baby.6 Cigarette smoking increases the risk for infertility, preterm delivery, stillbirth, low birth weight, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).4 The nicotine in cigarette smoke reduces the amount of oxygen reaching the fetus.5 Smoking can also lead to early menopause, which increases your risk of developing certain diseases (like heart disease).6

Breast Cancer

Research is finding a connection between the risk of developing breast cancer and smoking.


Smokers have a higher risk of developing osteoporosis, a condition that involves bone thinning. The loss of bone tissue, more prevalent among women, can result in an increase of bone fractures and an increased risk for hip fracture than women who never smoked.4,6


Smoking causes your blood pressure rises by about 10 to 15 percent. High blood pressure means you have an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Smoking not only affects the pressure, but it also damages the blood itself. Carbon monoxide (CO) is created and ingested — so much that smokers have about 4 to 15 times the amount of CO in the body than non-smokers. Carbon monoxide also is the same stuff that comes out of your car’s tailpipe. When you smoke, it stays in your bloodstream for about six hours. This harmful chemical compound does its best to rob every cell in your body of oxygen, something cells need to function.9

Digestive System

Smoking can harm all parts of the digestive system, contributing to such common disorders as heartburn and peptic ulcers. Smoking increases the risk of Crohn’s disease, and possibly gallstones, which form when liquid stored in the gallbladder hardens into pieces of stone-like material. Smoking also damages the liver. 10 Smoking also affects the way the liver operates, particularly in terms of how it processes alcohol.


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2013 June). Youth and Tobacco Use. Retrieved on June 28, 2013 from the World Wide Web at
  2. World Health Organization (WHO). (2013). Fact Sheets: Tobacco. Retrieved on June 28, 2013 from the World Wide Web at
  3. WebMD. (2012 January). Smoking Cessation Health Center: Smoking and Heart Disease. Retrieved on June 28, 2013 from the World Wide Web at
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2013 June). Health Effects of Cigarette Smoking. Retrieved on June 28, 2013 from the World Wide Web at
  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2004). The Health Consequences of Smoking: The 2004 Surgeon General’s Report. Retrieved on June 28, 2013 from the World Wide Web at
  6. (2013). Smoking Health Consequences. Retrieved on June 28, 2013 from the World Wide Web at
  7. Stop Smoking Programs. (2012). Effects of Smoking. Retrieved on June 28, 2013 from the World Wide Web at
  8. Everyday Health Media. (2010). How Smoking Harms Your Sinuses. Retrieved on June 28, 2013 from the World Wide Web at
  9. Bryant, Charles. (2013). How Does Your Body Digest A Cigarette. Retrieved on June 28, 2013 from the World Wide Web at
  10. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2012 April). National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse: Smoking and Your Digestive System. Retrieved on June 28, 2013 from the World Wide Web at