8 Health Dangers of Smoking

Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Written By Sandra Gordon on October 17, 2020
  • Human heart
    1. Smoking Harms Your Heart and Blood Vessels
    Compared to nonsmokers, those who smoke are 2 to 4 times more likely to develop coronary artery disease—heart disease—the leading cause of death in the United States. Smokers also have double the risk of stroke, and they’re more likely to develop peripheral artery disease. The good news? After a year of not smoking, you’ll reduce your risk of heart disease by 50%.
  • senior-man-coughing
    2. Smoking Damages Your Lungs
    Smoking is the leading cause of COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), a lung disease that includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Compared with nonsmokers, smokers are up to 13 times more likely to die from COPD. But after just a few weeks of not smoking, your lung function will begin to improve.
  • Cancer patient
    3. Smoking Causes Cancer
    Lung cancer isn’t the only cancer linked to cigarettes. Smoking also increases the risk of other cancers, including cancer of the bladder, blood, cervix, colon and rectum, esophagus, kidneys, liver, pancreas, stomach, and trachea. It’s associated with one in every three cancer deaths in the United States. Fortunately, 10 years after quitting smoking, your risk of dying from lung cancer is only half that of someone who kept smoking.
  • Woman with sonogram
    4. Smoking Can Threaten Your Unborn Baby
    Smoking increases the risk of preterm delivery and low birth weight, which can both cause serious health problems for your baby. It’s linked to sudden infant death syndrome and birth defects, such as cleft lip or palate. Smoking can also make it harder to get pregnant. It affects a man’s sperm and increases a woman’s risk for ectopic pregnancy—when a fertilized egg starts growing outside the uterus.
  • diabetes-blood-sugar-testing
    5. Smoking Can Bring on Diabetes
    The risk of developing type 2 diabetes is 30 to 40% higher for smokers than nonsmokers. And the more cigarettes you smoke, the higher your risk. Smokers with type 2 diabetes also typically find the disease harder to control. By kicking the habit, you can gain better control of your blood sugar levels and improve your health right away.
  • Patient in arm sling
    6. Smoking Can Weaken Your Bones
    Smoking can increase your risk of osteoporosis, a condition in which bones become fragile and prone to fractures. The longer you smoke, the greater your risk of bone fractures as you age. Smokers also tend to have a harder time healing after a bone fracture and experience more complications while they heal. Saying goodbye to smoking at any age can reduce your risk of having brittle bones.
  • Man rubbing eyes
    7. Smoking Can Steal Your Sight
    Smoking is as bad for your eyes as it is for the rest of your body. It increases the risk of optic nerve damage and cataracts—clouding of the eye’s lens. It also increases the risk of age-related macular degeneration—damage to the macula, a part of the eye responsible for sharp vision. All of these conditions can lead to blindness.
  • Toothache
    8. Smoking Can Spoil Your Smile
    Nicotine and tar, two ingredients in cigarettes, can cause yellow and brown stains to appear on your teeth. Cigarettes also give you bad breath and dull your sense of taste and smell. What’s worse, smoking can lead to gum disease, mouth cancer, tooth loss, and difficulty healing after procedures to fix missing teeth or other dental problems.
8 Health Dangers of Smoking

About The Author

  1. Adult Cigarette Smoking in the United States: Current Estimates. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/adult_data/cig_smoking/index.htm.
  2. Cancer. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/health_effects/cancer/index.htm.
  3. Eye Health Tips. National Eye Institute. http://www.nei.nih.gov/healthyeyes/eyehealthtips.asp.
  4. Fact Sheet: Effects of Smoking on the Mouth. Academy of General Dentistry. http://www.agd.org/2/practicemanagement/factsheet.
  5. Health Effects of Cigarette Smoking. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/health_effects/effects_cig_smoking/.
  6. Heart Disease and Stroke. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/health_effects/heart_disease/index.htm.
  7. Smoke-free Living: Benefits & Milestones. American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/QuitSmoking/YourNon-SmokingLife/Smoke-free-Living-Benef....
  8. Smoking and Bone Health. NIH Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases National Resource Center, National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Bone/Osteoporosis/Conditions_Behaviors/bone_smoking.asp.
  9. Smoking and Diabetes. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/campaign/tips/diseases/diabetes.html.
  10. Smoking and Tobacco. American Dental Association. http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/s/smoking-and-tobacco.
  11. Smoking During Pregnancy. March of Dimes. http://www.marchofdimes.org/pregnancy/smoking-during-pregnancy.aspx.
  12. What Is Peripheral Arterial Disease? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/pad.
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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2020 Oct 17
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.