Health Effects of Smoking

Smoking is the leading preventable cause of death and disease in Australia. In 2003, it was estimated that tobacco use was responsible for more than 15,500 deaths or nearly 12% of all deaths.1

Tobacco use reduces not only your life expectancy but your quality of life. Many medical conditions caused by smoking can result not just in death, but in living for years with disabling health problems. It is estimated that more than 204,700 years of healthy life were lost in Australia, in 2003, as a result of smoking.1

Inhaling the substances in any type of burning tobacco is harmful to the human body. The toxins in tobacco smoke can go everywhere in the body that the blood flows2 causing harm to nearly every organ and system of the body. Low tar and low nicotine cigarettes are not safer to smoke and are not a healthier option compared to cigarettes with higher levels of these toxins.3,4

While some health effects from smoking are immediate there is a long time lag, sometimes decades, between smoking and many tobacco-related diseases. This time lag can result in some smokers believing it won’t happen to them. However, half of all lifetime smokers will die from smoking related diseases, and half of these will be in middle age (35-69yrs).5

Scientific evidence confirms that smokers face significantly increased risks of death and or illness from numerous cancers, heart disease, stroke, atherosclerosis, abdominal aortic aneurysm, emphysema and other respiratory diseases. Smoking also causes blindness, dental problems, erectile dysfunction, reduced fertility in women, sudden infant death syndrome, contributes to osteoporosis and increases the risks of pregnancy complications including premature birth, low birth weight, still birth and infant mortality.2

Exposure to second-hand smoke also causes premature death and disease in children and adults who do not smoke. There is no risk-free level of exposure to second-hand smoke.6

Quitting at any age has benefits, with the largest reduction in risk in those who quit the earliest 7

Many Australians remain unaware of the extent of the impact smoking has on the body. Want to know more?. Thinking about quitting?.

Artery


Photo of a damaged artery

Tobacco smoke contains over 4,000 chemicals. As well as tar and nicotine, there is also the gas carbon monoxide (from in car exhaust fumes), ammonia (in floor cleaner) and arsenic (found in rat poison). To find out more about Australian smoking statistics, the damage smoking does to your health and the dangers of passive smoking.

Eye


Photo of an eye

Quitting smoking can be one of the most difficult, yet rewarding things a person can do. The following are resources they you may like to use to help you quit.

Lungs


Photo of lungs

Some smokers know the damage their habit is doing to their lungs. They know that they wake feeling short of breath, they feel out of puff walking up stairs and they can't run like they used to.



Sources:
[1] Begg S, Vos T, Barker B, Stevenson C, Stanley L, Lopez AD, 2007. The burden of disease and injury in Australia 2003. PHE 82. Canberra AIHW. www.aihw.gov.au/publications/index.cfm/title/10317
[2] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 2004. The health consequences of smoking: a report of the Surgeon General. [Atlanta, Ga.]: Dept. of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health; Washington, D.C. www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/sgr/sgr_2004/index.htm
[3]Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, Media release 19 December 2005 Low yield cigarettes ‘not a healthier option’:$9 million campaign. Downloaded 16/10/07 from www.accc.gov.au/content/index.phtml/itemId/719575
[4] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 2004. The health consequences of smoking: a report of the Surgeon General, What it means to you. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health.
www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/sgr/sgr_2004/00_pdfs/SGR2004_Whatitmeanstoyou.pdf (This link was valid at the time of submission).
[5] Mackay J. and Erikson M. 2002. The Tobacco Atlas. World Health Organization. Geneva. Switzerland.
[6] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 2006. The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke: A Report of the Surgeon General. [Atlanta, Ga.]. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health. Washington, D.C. www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/sgr/sgr_2006/index.htm
[7] Doll R, Peto R, Boreham J, Sutherland I. Mortality in relation to smoking: 50 years observation on male British doctors. British Medical Journal. June 2004, 328:1519. www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/328/7455/1519