What does smoking do to your health?
Why is smoking so bad for us?
Written by spunout
Fact checked by experts and reviewed by young people.
We’ve all heard that smoking is bad for us but we don’t always understand why it’s so harmful.
5,000 people die in Ireland every year as a result of smoking or a smoking-related illness, and it’s the main cause of most lung cancers.
So, what is it about smoking that makes it so dangerous?
Cigarettes: The facts
The tobacco smoke produced by cigarettes contains about 4000 chemicals and many of them are harmful. These include:
- Nicotine is one of the most addictive substances in the world. Scientists have argued that it may be more addictive than heroin or cocaine.
- Nicotine is poisonous and has been used in the past as an insecticide
- It is inhaled into the lungs, passes into the bloodstream and reaches the brain in about 10 -20 seconds
- Nicotine addiction can occur very quickly and it is because of this that smokers continue to smoke, many for the rest of their lives
- Nicotine addiction can worsen your mental health, make you anxious, and effect the quality of your sleep
Tar is a sticky substance that collects in the lungs, causing respiratory diseases and cancers.
Carbon Monoxide is a poisonous gas which limits the amount of oxygen that the red blood cells in our bodies carry.
There are more than 4,000 other chemicals in cigarettes, many of which are cancer causing.
These include arsenic (poison), ammonia (toilet cleaner), acetone (nail polish remover), butane (lighter fuel), methanol (rocket fuel), DDT (insecticide), polonium 210 (radioactive fallout) and cadium (car battery fuel).
What does smoking do to your body?
Smoking can have a range of different affects on your body in both the short and long term.
Cigarette smoke has an affect on nearly every organ in the body, causes many diseases and has a negative impact on your mental health and your health in general.
In the short term:
- Nicotine will effect your mental health and sleep quality
- Your mental health suffers and you can experience increased levels of irritability and anxiety brought on by constant nicotine withdrawal
- Smoking effects the quality of your skin, hair and teeth
- Smoking effects your sports performance – you won’t be able to exercise as well or for as long
- Smoking can have negative health effects for people who are on the contraceptive pill (birth control pill)
In the long term:
- Smokers lose around 10 or 15 years of their potential life span
- Smoking can cause Coronary Heart Disease
- Lung Cancer
- Throat Cancer
- Mouth Cancer
- Bladder Cancer
- Infertility in men and women
- Stomach Ulcers
Get help and support to QUIT smoking
- Talk to your GP or pharmacist.
- Visit Quit.ie for tips on how to stop smoking.
- Call the Quitline on Freephone 1800 201 203 to talk to someone who understands and can help you quit.
- Head to the Quit.ie Facebook page to read stories from others who have quit smoking and to share your own.
- Check out SpunOut’s articles about giving up cigarettes.
Disclaimer: There is more than one way to quit smoking. You may need to try a few different things to find what is right for you. For advice and support on quitting, visit SpunOut.ie/QUIT