10 harmful effects of cigarette smoking

One girl's cigarette smoke is negatively impacting another girl.

Smoking cigarettes is an addictive behaviour that can affect anyone from school children to adults. Some cautious parents try to counsel their wards who are of impressionable ages when addiction is likely to set in due to peer pressure. The harmful effects far outnumber any other excuse people place for taking up this habit at any point in life. Not many realize the ills they have invited into their lives when they take to smoking. Counselling from family members and talking about the ill effects of smoking can get nagging and bothersome for smokers but is an effective way of pointing to a smoker what they are losing out in life and that their habit is not just affecting them but those around them whom they care for and love. Eventually quitting smoking is a choice a smoker makes. Telling the smoker 10 good reasons why they should opt for a smoke-free life is the duty of those who care for and love the individual as is the smoker’s readiness to quit smoking. 

  1. Health Impact

When a person decides to smoke, the greatest harm they are causing is to their health. Tobacco is a mix of harmful substances like carbon monoxide, a poisonous, odourless and colourless gas that replaces oxygen in blood and eventually causes health loss. Tar in tobacco is a cancer-causing agent that starts settling on the lung tissues and visibly on teeth and fingernails. Metals such as arsenic, beryllium, cobalt, chromium, cadmium, lead and nickel are radioactive substances and oxidizing chemicals can harm the smoker’s heart, blood vessels, and muscles when interacting with cholesterols, coating the arterial walls with fatty deposits leading to heart attacks and brain stroke. Smokers are likely to be COPD patients, and lung infections which include pneumonia and tuberculosis can grip them. Both men and women smokers are susceptible to issues in their reproductive organs, like decreased sperm counts in men and low fertility rate in women, amongst many other concerns. Their immune system fed by harmful chemicals cannot resist infections. Quitting smoking can considerably help reverse the damage to a great extent.

  1. Secondhand Smoke

We have learnt about the health damage that smoking causes in individuals. But do you know that people around a smoker become secondary or passive smokers? The harmful contents in tobacco inhaled by people exposed to cigarette smoke are equally harmful. Lung problems and damage to the heart and blood vessels put them at risk of heart attacks and strokes. Those exposed to smoking suffer from low immunity, lung infections like bronchitis and pneumonia, coughing and wheezing with shortness of breath. When a person smokes at home, in the car, in public places or at workplaces they expose their children and other people to the hazards and ill effects of tobacco Quitting cigarettes can stop this and help them recover from the guilt of harming others.

  1. Mental Health

Cigarettes contain nicotine which is a highly addictive substance. Once someone starts smoking, nicotine creates smoking cravings making individuals irritable and stressful. Cigarette smoking is an expensive habit which affects mental health owing to growing expenses. Nicotine makes individuals feel good momentarily, but those addicted to smoking have an irritable and stressful disposition. Health hazards, not just self-health but hazards caused by passive smoking, mount to general frustration and displeasure. Individuals who have taken to smoking are prone to depression. Adversely affecting the brain, nicotine acts as a temporary antidepressant but sends smokers back to depressive spells. People given to smoking develop a smoking dependency to regain attention. All these can be reversed with one decision to quit cigarettes. Good health is just one step away.

  1. Reproductive Health

Smoking adversely affects the reproductive health of individuals. Women are prone to miscarriage, premature labour, and the birth of stillborn children. Smoking increases sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) in a newborn. Other common concerns are delayed pregnancy, and infertility in women. Mothers also put their babies at risk if they continue to smoke after childbirth. Men gradually have decreased sperm count. They suffer from hormonal issues, erectile dysfunctions and sperm motility problems. Women can improve their fertility if they give up smoking. Women too suffer from hormonal imbalance. The signs are reflected in menstrual cycle disorders. Early menopause in the late 40s or 50s can also result from smoking. Pregnancy complications, problems with fetal development, birth defects, genetic abnormalities and complications after birth are heightened.

  1. Aging and Skin Damage

Smoking harms general health, the toxic chemicals in tobacco are responsible for early ageing, not just wrinkles or lack of skin lustre but also cancer. The free radicals restrict oxygen intake in the skin which results in harming the skin. However, this can be reversed as individuals learn from the adverse effects and decide to quit smoking. Smoking also results in hair-loss, and the gradual loss of collagen and elastin challenges skin firmness. The faster you choose a smoke-free life you can recover from this damage to your skin. Skin pigmentation is a potential problem where smokers develop skin patches. Healing takes time for a smoker as the blood vessels are narrowed. So, cuts, wounds and small injuries can take a while to get better. If you wish to make a difference to your skin health, smoking cessation will help you revive with speed.

  1. Financial Impact

Smokers seldom count their spending when they are addicted to tobacco. A popular cigarette brand in India can cost anywhere from Rs 250 upwards, even if a person smokes one pack a day in ten days, the amount spent will be Rs. 2500. In a month, that comes to Rs 7,500, which adds up to Rs. 90,000 a year. Instead of spending on cigarettes, if this was invested even in a fixed deposit with an interest of 5%, in 10 years, a person will accumulate Rs 146,601. Cigarette prices are continuously rising by 10%, so, you can calculate the amount you will be spending if you decide to keep your smoking habit for the next 30 years. Apart from the financial loss, let us glance at the health hazards incurred from smoking. Smoking causes cardiovascular diseases, tuberculosis, cancer and respiratory diseases and can burn a hole in a person's pocket while decreasing longevity. Why go through this ordeal when you can choose to walk out and lead a smoke-free life?

  1. Social Consequences

Smokers form their groups, and where they cannot find those of their sort, they are left isolated. Since smoking causes depression, they gradually turn loners. The psychological health impact on individuals caused by smoking is much deeper. Irritable and easily agitated, smokers generally are no longer welcome amidst happy and fun-loving social groups leaving them friendless and alone. Intimate partnerships take a jolt with sexual disorders, increasing disengagement and unwillingness in their duties towards their family’s wellbeing. All these factors combine to add to their miseries and leave them emotionally and psychologically wrecked. Why endure this pain when it can be reversed with one step towards change? Embrace smoking cessation and allow yourself to return to a normal life.

  1. Environmental Impact

Though smoking is not illegal, and most smokers are harming themselves by continuing with this habit, the environmental impact their habit causes is not to be disregarded. In India, more than half of the population is addicted to smoking which includes teenagers, young adults, adults, older adults, and seniors. Daily disposal of cigarette butts affects soil and water. It takes about two years for the biodegradable butt to be mixed with the soil. Papers for cigarette packaging and wrapping are responsible for a sizable deforestation. The carbon dioxide is dispersed into the environment from so many smokers. Smoking contributes to global warming, so if you have any responsibility towards your action and wish to add your bit to the environment, smoking cessation is the only way you can add green imprints.

  1. Smoking Cessation

Smoking is an indulgence and people smoking seldom realise the harm they are causing to themselves. If you have read the points that we have listed above, it should trigger some thought and action. Why let yourself be driven to a life that can only add to failing health, financial drainage, emotional isolation, and environmental hazards? Given all these reasons, why is it still important for anyone to continue smoking? There is always a way out of it. Smoking cessation is your decision and if you are worried about withdrawal from smoking, you need not worry. A smoke-free life is a choice and with help from Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT), you can choose to live better without smoking. With help from nicotine-induced gums, mints and patches, this controlled step-down method helps individuals to get over smoking gradually.

  1. Gaining weight

Quitting smoking is a great decision but there are some side effects. Individuals are likely to gain weight as smoking decreases appetite which returns when they stop smoking. Do not regard this as a deterrent but use other ways to manage weight. Plan a nutritious diet and a few lifestyle changes that keep your weight in control. Some exercises will keep you agile and with a appetite healthy. If you stick to a health maintenance routine, you can reverse the damage smoking has done to your health. So, while there is a risk of gaining weight, you have a way of getting out of it. The smoke-free life you give to yourself is a renewed life and the differences will be felt by you every day. Stick to your decision, make some changes to your lifestyle, and breathe, live and enjoy your life better.