Smoking has numerous detrimental effects on health, which affect nearly every part of the body. These include (but are not limited to):
- Respiratory tract: Irritation and reduced functioning of the airways; breathlessness; mucous congestion; lowered resistance to infection; increased risk of lung cancer (and other forms of cancer throughout the body), emphysema, and bronchitis.
- Cardiovascular system: Elevated blood pressure; increased heart rate; greater tendency to form blood clots; damage to the lining of arteries and an increased tendency to form atherosclerotic plaque (plaque in the arteries); reduced blood flow to extremities such as fingers and toes; increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
- Immunity: Lower resistance to infection and increased recovery time when infections occur; depleted vitamin C levels.
- Men’s health: Reduced fertility and sexual performance.
- Women’s health: Reduced fertility; menstrual irregularities; earlier menopause; and increased risk of cervical cancer. Smoking during pregnancy increases the likelihood of miscarriage, stillbirth and having a baby that is premature, of low birth weight, or affected by birth defects.
- Other: Increased risk of:
- Macular degeneration (a leading cause of blindness)
- Osteoporosis and hip fracture
- Gum disease (gingivitis and periodontitis)
- Premature ageing of the skin
- Digestive irritation and ulceration
Withdrawal symptoms that occur when smoking stops abruptly may include (but are not limited to):
- Cigarette cravings
- Mood swings (e.g. irritability, aggression, anxiety, depression)
- Sleep disturbances
- Restlessness and difficulty concentrating
- Increased hunger (which may lead to weight gain)
- Mouth ulcers
Most of these symptoms will have resolved after you’ve stopped smoking for a month or so, although the increased appetite may continue for over 10 weeks. Unfortunately, cravings for cigarettes may persist for even longer, especially during times of stress.