Smoking leads to disease and disability and harms nearly every organ of the body.
More than 16 million Americans are living with a disease caused by smoking. For every person who dies because of smoking, at least 30 people live with a serious smoking-related illness. Smoking causes can

Dangerous chemicals in tobacco smoke


Highly damaging components of tobacco smoke include:


tar – is the word for the solid particles suspended in tobacco smoke. The particles contain chemicals, including cancer-causing substances (carcinogens). Tar is sticky and brown, and stains teeth, fingernails and lung tissue

carbon monoxide – is a poisonous gas. It is odourless and colourless and, in large doses, quickly causes death because it takes the place of oxygen in the blood. In people who smoke, the carbon monoxide in their blood makes it harder for oxygen to get to their organs and muscles

oxidizing chemicals – are highly reactive chemicals that can damage the heart muscles and blood vessels of people who smoke. They react with cholesterol, leading to the build-up of fatty material on artery walls. Their actions lead to heart disease, stroke and blood vessel disease

metals – tobacco smoke contains several metals that cause cancer, including arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, chromium, cobalt, lead and nickel 

radioactive compounds – tobacco smoke contains radioactive compounds that are known to be carcinogenic.



Effects of smoking tobacco on the body

Inhaling tobacco smoke causes damage to many of the body’s organs and systems. 




Effects of smoking on the respiratory system

The effects of tobacco smoke on the respiratory system include:


irritation of the trachea (windpipe) and larynx (voice box) 

reduced lung function and breathlessness due to swelling and narrowing of the lung airways and excess mucus in the lung passages 

impairment of the lungs’ clearance system, leading to the build-up of poisonous substances, which results in lung irritation and damage 

increased risk of lung infection and symptoms such as coughing and wheezing 

permanent damage to the air sacs of the lungs.



Effects of smoking on the circulatory system

The effects of tobacco smoke on the circulatory system include:


raised blood pressure and heart rate 

constriction (tightening) of blood vessels in the skin, resulting in a drop in skin temperature 

less oxygen carried by the blood during exercise 

‘stickier’ blood, which is more prone to clotting 

damage to the lining of the arteries, which is thought to be a contributing factor to atherosclerosis (the build-up of fatty deposits on the artery walls)

reduced blood flow to extremities (fingers and toes) 

increased risk of stroke and heart attack due to blockages of the blood supply.



Effects of smoking on the immune system

The effects of tobacco smoke on the immune system include:


greater susceptibility to infections such as pneumonia and influenza 

more severe and longer-lasting illnesses 

lower levels of protective antioxidants (such as vitamin C), in the blood.

Effects of smoking on the musculoskeletal system

The effects of tobacco smoke on the musculoskeletal system include:


tightening of certain muscles 

reduced bone density.

Nevin Kiragu

5 Blog posts