Health Effects of Smoking

Health Effects of Smoking

Cigarette smoking has disastrous consequences: It damages just about every organ of the body and leads to the general deterioration of the smoker's health. Cigarette smoking is deadlier on an annual basis than HIV/AIDS, motor vehicle crashes, drug abuse, alcoholism, suicide, and murder … combined.

Breathing in cigarette smoke is terribly harmful to the lungs. The damage starts with the first puff and continues until the smoker quits. About 9 out of 10 deaths from lung diseases are caused by smoking. A cigarette smoker's risk of dying from a chronic obstructive lung disease like chronic bronchitis or emphysema is 10 times that of non-smokers.

Chronic bronchitis occurs when cigarette smoke prompts the airways to produce too much protective mucus. The smoker develops a chronic cough to clear their airways of the mucus so they can breathe. Eventually, the airways swell and become blocked by scar tissue and mucus. The smoker with bronchitis has a higher risk of contracting pneumonia and other infections.

Smoking also affects the heart and the circulatory system, and has been linked to coronary heart disease, the number one killer in the United States. Cigarette smokers are as much as four times more likely to be diagnosed with coronary heart disease than non-smokers, and are twice as likely to suffer strokes.

Cigarette smoking's effects are widespread and include damage to:

Skin- Smoking prematurely ages the skin, causing facial wrinkles. It also slows the skin's healing ability and has been linked to skin cancer.

Eyes- Smoking has been linked to the development of cataracts, a condition in which the clear lens of the eye becomes cloudy. Cigarette smoking also can cause macular degeneration and do damage to the optic nerve.

Mouth- Smoking is estimated to be responsible for three of every four cases of periodontal disease in the United States. Toxins contained in cigarette smoke damage the gums, causing them to recede and putting the smoker at greater risk for tooth decay.

Although the health consequences of smoking are dire, it's important to remember that you can take control of your health by quitting. Once you give up cigarettes your body can begin to repair some of the damage smoking has caused.

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