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revised August 14, 2013

Arrow BulletSmoking: the Health Risks


Roughly one out of every two smokers will die a tobacco-related death.15

Smoking harms your health from the moment you inhale

Smoking affects health instantly
Smoking affects how long you’ll live
Diseases related to smoking
Other health risks related to smoking
The Good News
Thinking about Quitting Smoking
More information

How Cigarettes Harm Your Body

Smoking affects health instantly

After inhaling a puff of tobacco smoke:

  • The airways in your lungs will tighten, making breathing more difficult.2
  • You’ll cough as your body tries to clear your lungs.2
  • Your heart rate and blood pressure will rise.3

Smoking affects how long you’ll live

  • Smoking is the greatest cause of early, preventable death in Ontario.1
  • Nearly half of all smokers die from diseases or ailments related to smoking.2

Diseases related to smoking

Lung cancer

  • Smoking causes lung cells to change, which can then develop into lung cancer.4
  • About 85% to 90% of lung cancers are related to tobacco smoking.5

Other cancers

Smoking increases your risk of developing:

  • Cervical cancer, mouth cancer and throat cancer.4
  • Cancer of the bladder, pancreas and stomach, and kidneys.12
  • Cancer of the lips and tongue.13

Heart disease (cardiovascular disease)

  • Smoking causes cardiovascular diseases that lead to heart attacks and strokes.6, 7
  • Women who smoke while using birth control pills are more likely to suffer a stroke or develop heart disease and high blood pressure.8

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

  • COPD is a term for a group of lung diseases — such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis — that damage the lungs and make it hard to breathe.
  • smoking is the most common cause of COPD.9

Other health risks related to smoking

Smoking and Dental Health

  • Tobacco smoke stains teeth and gums.
  • Smoking increases your risk of periodontal disease: swollen gums, gum disease, cavities and bad breath.13, 14
  • Tobacco use increases the risk of developing oral cancer.13
  • Loss of teeth is also associated with smoking13

Smoking, infertility and impotence (erectile dysfunction)

  • Women who smoke may have a more difficult time becoming pregnant.15,16
  • Smoking may affect the health of men’s sperm.17
  • Smokers are twice more likely to experience impotence than men who don’t smoke.3

Smoking and asthma

  • Asthma is a lung disease. If you have asthma, certain allergens and irritants cause the airways in your lungs to inflame and swell, causing chest tightness, wheezing and difficulty breathing.
  • Smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke both trigger asthma attacks.10, 11

Smoking can also cause:

  • Cataracts (which can then lead to blindness)3
  • Stomach ulcers3
  • Wrinkled skin (due to lack of oxygen and poor blood flow/circulation)18

The Good News

Quitting smoking can reverse many of these health risks.20

More Information?

Call us at 905-799-7700 (toll-free from Caledon at 905-584-2216) for more information about the health effects of smoking, second-hand smoke and how to create smoke-free spaces.

References

1 Ontario Ministry of Health Promotion, 2006: (fact sheet) Health Effects of Smoking. [PDF]

2 Health Canada, 2007: “The Scoop on Smoking – Tobacco Youth Zone

3 Health Canada, 2008: Healthy Living - “It’s Never Going to Happen to Me

4 Health Canada, 2008: “Smoking and Your Body

5 Canadian Cancer Society, 2008: “Canadian Cancer Encyclopedia (Lung Cancer)

6 Health Canada, 2008: “Smoking and Heart Disease

7 Health Canada, 2008: “Smoking and Strokes

8 Health Canada, 2008: The Scoop on Smoking – Tobacco Youth Zone - “What’s the Deal With Smoking?

9 Canadian Lung Association, 2008: “What is COPD?

10 Ontario Lung Association, 2008: “Lung Health – Asthma - What is Asthma?

11 The Asthma Society of Canada, 2008: “Smoking

12 British Medical Journal, 2008: Cigarette Smoking and Breast Cancer.

13 Oral Health & Your Body, 2008: “Lifestyle – Smoking” Reference should actually read “Ontario Dental Association. Oral Health & Your Body…….”

14 Canadian Dental Association, 2008: ”Tobacco and Oral Health – Smoking Tobacco

15 Canadian Cancer Society, 2007 “For Smokers who Don’t Want to Quit – One Step at a Time

16 Health Canada, 2008: “Effects of Active and Passive Smoking on Human Reproduction and Pregnancy

17 Health Canada, 2008: “Impotence and Smoking

18 Health Canada, 2005 (handbook): Quit 4 Life [PDF]

19 MayoClinic.com, 2006: “Causes of Leukoplakia

20 Canadian Cancer Society, 2007. For Smokers who Don’t Want to Quit

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