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:
- 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.
- 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:
- 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 musculo-skeletal system:
- tightening of certain muscles
- reduced bone density.
Effects of smoking on the sexual organs:
- lower sperm count
- higher percentage of deformed sperm
- genetic damage to sperm
- impotence, which may be due to the effects of smoking on blood flow and damage to the blood vessels of the penis.
Other effects of smoking on the body:
- irritation and inflammation of the stomach and intestines
- increased risk of painful ulcers along the digestive tract
- reduced ability to smell and taste
- premature wrinkling of the skin
- higher risk of blindness
- gum disease (periodontitis).