What health problems does smoking cause

The consequences of smoking

Acute poisoning

Nicotine is a potent poison. The amounts absorbed by the body when smoking are generally harmful. As a rule, however, they are not sufficient for acute life-threatening poisoning. However, if tobacco is swallowed or eaten, it can be fatal.

Small children are particularly at risk, as consuming a single cigarette is enough for them. Signs of acute poisoning are nausea, headache, sweating, dizziness, diarrhea and agitation. Death occurs from respiratory paralysis or cardiac arrest.

Accelerated aging

Smoking places a considerable burden on the body with pollutants that accelerate the aging process. The immune system is damaged and wound healing is disturbed. The skin of the smoker loses tension, becomes wrinkled and inelastic more quickly. Yellow teeth and discolored fingertips also make the smoker look older than he is. The accelerated aging process corresponds to a shorter life expectancy. More than half of regular smokers die prematurely.

Cardiovascular diseases

Smoking damages the blood vessels and promotes calcification. In addition, the oxygen content of the blood decreases and the blood flow to all organs deteriorates. Chronic nicotine consumption is linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Possible consequences are strokes, circulatory disorders in the arms and legs or a heart attack. The risk of having a heart attack is about twice as high for smokers than for non-smokers.


Smoking also has a negative effect on the sugar metabolism. There is some evidence that smoking makes cells less sensitive to insulin. It has been proven that smokers are twice as likely to develop type 2 diabetes as non-smokers. This also increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases and kidney failure. Both are more common in people with diabetes than in non-diabetics. Smoking also increases the risk.

Diseases of the lungs

Tobacco smoking increases the risk of developing lung cancer. Depending on the number of cigarettes smoked per day and the number of "smoking years", smokers are 20 to 30 times more likely to develop lung cancer than non-smokers. The risk is particularly high for people who started smoking at an early age.

Passive smoking can also cause lung cancer. Only less than ten percent of all lung cancers are unrelated to tobacco use.

Regardless of this, smoking promotes the development of chronic obstructive bronchitis (COPD). Pollutants from cigarette smoke interfere with the self-cleaning of the bronchi by the cilia, which makes inflammation easier.

The chronic inflammatory stimulus leads to a gradual remodeling of the airways, which narrower and narrower as the disease progresses. Above all, this affects exhalation, which in the long term can lead to overinflation of the alveoli (pulmonary emphysema). This results in increasing shortness of breath. The no longer properly functioning lungs worsen the oxygen supply to the whole body and can also lead to an overload of the heart.

Tooth damage

Nicotine damages gums and teeth. The teeth become yellow and unsightly, are more often affected by tooth decay and fall out more often. The blood supply to the gums is poor. Because the drug damages the immune system, gingivitis is common.

Other forms of cancer

Burning tobacco produces a mixture of more than 4,800 different substances. At least 250 of these "active ingredients" are carcinogenic or toxic.

The risk of developing cancer of the floor of the mouth, larynx, trachea or esophagus is therefore demonstrably higher in smokers than in non-smokers.

The following diseases are also linked to smoking:

  • Cancer of the nose and throat
  • Liver cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Certain forms of leukemia
  • Bladder cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • cervical cancer

Damage to unborn life

During pregnancy, nicotine passes from the maternal bloodstream via the placenta to that of the embryo. The rate of deformities (embryopathy) in children of smokers is just as increased as the mortality of children.

Tobacco consumption also increases the risk of premature births, miscarriages and stillbirths. Newborns to smokers are on average lower in weight, develop worse and later have a higher risk of respiratory, cardiovascular and cancer diseases.

Smoking makes you unattractive

  • It is not uncommon for an ugly yellow film of nicotine on the teeth and hands to reveal the addiction.
  • The skin of smokers can look gray, pale and unhealthy.
  • Breath is often bad.
  • The clothes and hair can smell.
  • Women can go through menopause earlier.

Smoking can also have a negative impact on the sexuality of both men and women. For example, smokers are more likely to have erectile dysfunction than non-smokers.