Why Is Smoking Bad For You?

Smoking is bad and we all know that but why is it bad? One of the main reasons smoking is deemed as a health hazard is because of Nictoine Dependence.
Nicotine dependence ― also called tobacco dependence ― is an addiction to tobacco products caused by nicotine. Nicotine produces physical and mood-altering effects in your brain by releasing brain chemicals which help regulate mood and behavior. One of these chemicals or neurotransmitters is Dopamine, which is released in the “reward center” of the brain and causes temporary improvement in mood and feelings of pleasure. Experiencing these effects from nicotine is what makes tobacco so addictive!

For some people, using any amount of tobacco can quickly lead to nicotine dependence. Signs that you may be addicted include:

  • You can’t stop smoking.You’ve made one or more serious, but unsuccessful, attempts to stop.
  • You experience withdrawal symptoms when you try to stop.Your attempts at stopping have caused physical and mood-related symptoms, such as strong cravings, anxiety, irritability, restlessness, difficulty concentrating, depressed mood, frustration, anger, increased hunger, insomnia, constipation or diarrhea.
  • You keep smoking despite health problems.Even though you’ve developed health problems with your lungs or your heart, you haven’t been able to stop.
  • You give up social or recreational activities in order to smoke.


OK, addiction is bad but what harm does tobacco exactly do to my body?

Tobacco smoke contains more than 60 known cancer-causing chemicals and thousands of other harmful substances. Even “all natural” or herbal cigarettes have chemicals that are harmful to your health. Smoking harms almost every organ of your body and impairs your body’s immune system. About half of all regular smokers will die of a disease caused by tobacco.

Women smokers are now at equal risk to men smokers of dying from lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and cardiovascular disease caused by using tobacco.

The negative health effects include:

  • Lung cancer and lung diseases.Smoking causes nearly 9 out of 10 lung cancer cases. In addition, smoking causes other lung diseases, such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
  • Other cancers.Smoking is a major cause of cancers of the esophagus, larynx, throat (pharynx) and mouth and is related to cancers of the bladder, pancreas, kidney and cervix, and some leukemias. Overall, smoking causes 30 percent of all cancer deaths.
  • Heart problems.Smoking increases your risk of dying of heart and blood vessel (cardiovascular) disease, including heart attack and stroke. Even smoking just one to four cigarettes daily increases your risk of heart disease.
  • Smoking increases insulin resistance, which can set the stage for the development of type 2 diabetes. If you have diabetes, smoking can speed the progress of complications, such as kidney disease and eye problems.
  • Eye problems.Smoking can increase your risk of serious eye problems such as cataracts and loss of eyesight from macular degeneration.
  • Infertility and impotence.Smoking increases the risk of reduced fertility in women and the risk of impotence in men.
  • Pregnancy and newborn complications.Mothers who smoke while pregnant face a higher risk of miscarriage, preterm delivery, lower birth weight and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) in their newborns.
  • Cold, flu and other illnesses.Smokers are more prone to respiratory infections, such as colds, flu and bronchitis.
  • Weakened senses.Smoking deadens your senses of taste and smell, so food isn’t as appetizing.
  • Teeth and gum disease.Smoking is associated with an increased risk of developing inflammation of the gum (gingivitis) and a serious gum infection that can destroy the support system for teeth (periodontitis).
  • Physical appearance.The chemicals in tobacco smoke can change the structure of your skin, causing premature aging and wrinkles. Smoking also yellows your teeth, fingers and fingernails.
  • Risks to your family.Nonsmoking spouses and partners of smokers have a higher risk of lung cancer and heart disease compared with people who don’t live with a smoker. If you smoke, your children will be more prone to SIDS, worsening asthma, ear infections and colds.


So what can we do?

Prevention is ALWAYS better than cure and the best way to prevent tobacco dependence is to not smoke in the first place.

And the best way to prevent your children from smoking is to not smoke yourself. Research has shown that children whose parents do not smoke or who successfully quit smoking are much less likely to take up smoking.

Here are steps you can take to prevent future generations from nicotine addiction and the many diseases associated with smoking:

  • Talk to your children about smoking.You can be a great influence on whether your children smoke, despite what they see in movies and on the web.
  • Stay in touch with your teens.Studies show that smoking is most likely to become a habit during the teen years. Ask whether their friends smoke. Those who have friends who smoke are more likely to start smoking than those who don’t. Help them plan ways to handle peer pressure. Let your child know that other forms of tobacco, including cigars and smokeless tobacco, also carry significant health risks.
  • Promote smoke-free environments.Ban smoking in your home. Support legislation to make all workplaces smoke-free. Encourage smoke-free public places, including restaurants. Become active in community and school-based stop-smoking programs.
  • Support legislation to increase taxes on tobacco products.Higher prices discourage teens from starting to smoke. Higher prices on tobacco products, coupled with smoke-free workplace laws, are the most effective public health policies to reduce smoking in adults and prevent young people from ever starting.


What if I start smoking the vape instead of cigarettes to reduce smoking addiction?

That’s not a good idea! Tobacco in any form is not safe. Even products that deliver nicotine without tobacco are risky. Stick with proven stop-smoking aids and steer clear of the following products:

  • Dissolvable tobacco products.Tobacco pouches, lozenges, strips or other products contain small amounts of tobacco and nicotine you hold or dissolve in your mouth. There is no evidence they will help you stop smoking and little is known about their health effects.
  • E-cigarettes or Vapes.Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, are battery-powered devices that heat liquid containing nicotine into a vapor to be inhaled. Because these products are new, there isn’t much data about possible safety risks. Studies of e-cigarettes for smoking cessation have shown mixed results. For these reasons, e-cigarettes aren’t recommended for people trying to quit smoking.
  • Flavored cigarettes.Clove cigarettes (kreteks) and flavored cigarettes (bidis) carry the same health risks as smoking regular cigarettes and can cause additional health problems.
  • Hookahs (Sheesha).These are water pipes that burn tobacco, and the smoke is inhaled through a hose. They are not safer than cigarettes. The water does not filter out toxins in the smoke, and the water and pipe have a risk of transmitting infections.
  • Nicotine lollipops and balms.Products containing nicotine salicylate are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration, and they pose a risk for accidental use by children.
  • Pipes and cigars.These products have similar, though less frequent, health risks as cigarettes, and they are not a safe alternative.
  • Smokeless tobacco and snuff (snus).These products contain nicotine in amounts similar to cigarettes and increase your risk of mouth and throat cancer, tooth and gum diseases, and other health problems.

Dr Rami Said

General Practitioner

As usual, if you have any questions about smoking or would like to talk about the most effective ways to quit smoking, you can ask your Health at Hand doctor for advice through our app that can be easily downloaded from the App Store.