Why smoking is bad for you?

Understanding what’s in a cigarette and why smoking is so bad for you might help you quit for good!

Tobacco smoke contains more than 4,000 harmful chemicals.  The list below shows just a few of them and where you woud usually expect to find them.

 Chemical  Usually found in…
 Acetone  Nail polish remover
 Ammonia  Fertilisers and explosives
 Arsenic  Poison
 Butane  Lighter fluid
 Cadmium  Batteries
 Carbon monoxide  Car exhausts
 Cyanide  Poison
 DDT  Insecticide (now banned)
 Formaldehyde  Paint and as a preservative in mortuaries
 Methanol  Rocket fuel and antifreeze
 Toluene  Industrial solvent

Cigarettes also contain tar, which is a mix of chemicals commonly used in road-surfacing.  This is the sticky, brown substance that stains your teeth and nails.

How does smoking harm me?

Smoking is the biggest cause of preventable death.  In England in 2010, over 80,000 people died from smoking-related causes.  Globally, nearly six million people die every year as a result of smoking or being exposed to second-hand smoke, and this is expected to rise to seven million by 2020.

Smoking is damaging to almost every part of your body and is responsible for greatly reducing life expectancy in half of all smokers.  Every year, more people die as a result of smoking than from obesity, alcohol-related causes, road accidents, illegal drugs and HIV/AIDS combined.

If you smoke, you are at an increased risk of many serious health problems, such as:

  • different types of cancer, including lung, bladder and kidney
  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • heart disease
  • stroke

Smoking can play a part in increasing your risk of many other conditions, or worsening symptoms if you already have them.  Just a few of these include:

  • asthma
  • osteoporosis
  • stomach ulcers
  • cataracts
  • psoriasis
  • type 1 and type 2 diabetes
  • depression

It can also affect your fertility and harm your baby if you smoke while you’re pregnant.

Cutting out cigarettes can really improve your health, and some improvements happen soon after you stop, within as little as a couple of days.  For example, after just 24 hours, the oxygen level in your body will be back to normal – this means that your heart and muscles receive more oxygen so you will feel less breathless and find it easier to do physical activity.

Stopping smoking also helps you to:

  • look better – smoking causes grey, wrinkled and damaged skin
  • enjoy the taste of food and drink more as your senses of taste and smell improve
  • improve your fertility and sexual function
  • have healthier teeth and gums – smoking causes bad breath, yellowing teeth abd increases your risk of gum disease
  • increase your energy levels and helps you to exercise for longer