The Effects of Cigarette Smoking and COPD Awareness Month

6 min readNov 29, 2021

By Corey Lewis, CPT, CSCS

Nicotine Increases Your Risk of Developing Cardiovascular Diseases (Image Source: Shutterstock)

Despite health awareness and campaigns, smoking cigarettes is still the leading cause of preventable deaths. Smoking kills more than HIV, illegal drug use, and car accidents together. It’s responsible for ninety percent of all lung cancer deaths. The tobacco epidemic is a major public health issue. As smoking has such a strong influence on your health, it’s important to understand the effects of cigarette smoking and seek the support you need to quit.

What Are the Effects of Cigarette Smoking?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in five deaths in the US every year will be due to smoking. This translates to more than 480,000 deaths every year.

So something you might be wondering is, is vaping bad for you? Smoking, regardless of how you do it, can have adverse effects on your body. Some of these effects lead to life-threatening complications. Cigarettes contain harmful substances like tar, acetone, nicotine, and carbon dioxide. When you inhale these substances, they don’t just damage your lungs but affect your whole body. Tobacco smoke contains more than seventy cancer-causing chemicals, including nicotine.

How do cigarettes affect the body? — Krishna Sudhir │TED-Ed

What is nicotine? It is an addictive drug that hooks people on cigarettes. In addition to nicotine, cigarette smokers also inhale 7,000 chemicals in cigarette smoke. Most of these chemicals come from the burning of tobacco leaves. As a result, smoking affects your overall health and harms nearly every organ in your body. It can even affect testosterone levels in men.

Cigarette smoking is not only dangerous to smokers but also to people around them. Exposure to secondhand smoke leads to 41,000 adult deaths and 400 infant deaths each year. Secondhand smoke can result in lung cancer, stroke, and coronary heart disease. Children exposed to secondhand smoke in their first year of life are at risk of sudden infant death syndrome. Secondhand smoke also leads to delayed lung development, asthma, and other respiratory issues. Cigarette smoking is responsible for about twenty percent of cancers and nearly thirty percent of all cancer deaths in the United States.

Cognitive Function

Tobacco contains nicotine. Nicotine is a mood-altering drug that is highly addictive. When you smoke, nicotine reaches your brain fast, which is why you feel a rush of energy. That effect, however, is not long-lasting and soon wears off. When that happens, you feel tired and can’t help but want to light another cigarette. Nicotine is habit forming, which is why people who smoke have a hard time quitting. Physical nicotine withdrawal affects your cognitive function. It leads to feelings of anxiety, depression, and irritability. It can also lead to insomnia and headaches.

Digestive Problems

Cigarette smoking increases your risk of lung cancer as well as other types of cancers. These include mouth, esophagus, larynx, and throat cancer. At the same time, you are also at a greater risk of developing pancreatic cancer if you smoke. And it doesn’t matter if you don’t inhale the smoke. The physical act of smoking alone will still leave you prone to mouth cancer. Cigarette smoking also affects insulin, which leaves you at risk of developing insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.

Cigarette Smoking Increases Your Risk of Lung Cancer (Image Source: Shutterstock)

Cardiovascular Health

Nicotine increases your risk of developing cardiovascular diseases that can lead to heart attack and stroke. The nicotine in tobacco constricts blood vessels, which restricts blood flow. Smoking also leads to high blood pressure and a higher risk of blood clots. This leaves you prone to strokes. If you already have heart disease, smoking can worsen that, especially if you’ve had heart bypass surgery, stent placement, or a heart attack. Smoking also affects the cardiovascular health of non-smokers exposed to secondhand smoke.

Lung Disease

When people talk about cigarette smoking, lung cancer is at the center of the conversation. Smoking leads to lung damage. The smoke damages the airways and the small air sacs found in the lungs. Cigarette smoke contains nicotine and thousands of other harmful chemicals, which increase your risk of lung cancer. This risk is 25.7 times greater for women and twenty-five percent greater for men. According to a CDC report, nine out of ten lung cancer deaths will be due to cigarette smoking. There are several lung diseases linked to cigarette smoking, the major one being chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD). According to the American Lung Association, eighty percent of all COPD deaths are a result of smoking.

The Smoke Damages The Airways and The Small Air Sacs Found in The Lungs (Image Source: Shutterstock)

Effects of Cigarette Smoking: What Is COPD?

COPD is the third-leading cause of death worldwide. November is National COPD Awareness Month. But what is COPD? COPD stands for “chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder,” an umbrella term for two types of lung disease: emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Emphysema is a chronic condition resulting from damage to the lung’s alveoli. Chronic bronchitis is the long-term inflammation of the air passage. The primary cause of COPD is smoking, and the best way to prevent it is to quit smoking.

The Primary Cause of COPD is Smoking (Image Source: Shutterstock)

Stopping smoking is the most effective way to prevent COPD from progressing and to increase the chances of survival. You can diagnose COPD through a breathing test. Typically, the best treatment for the condition involves quitting smoking. Pneumonia and influenza immunization and the use of bronchodilator medications are also treatment options.

In advanced stages, doctors may recommend a lung transplant or surgical removal of localized emphysema. Promoting a better understanding of the disease and its symptoms is crucial to tackling COPD. Early diagnosis and treatment can improve your quality of life.

National COPD Awareness Month: Quitting Smoking Is Possible

Cigarette smoking leads to more deaths than HIV and even alcohol and illegal drug abuse. You are at more risk of dying from smoking than falling off a cliff when rock climbing. Smoking affects your overall health and is the leading cause of lung diseases like lung cancer and COPD. Quitting smoking is not easy, but it’s possible. The CDC has a quit-smoking hotline and resources to help you make a plan and find the support you need.

Smoking Cigarettes is The Leading Cause of Preventable Deaths (Image Source: Shutterstock)

This November, let’s take action and create awareness about the dangers of tobacco. Smoking affects everyone directly or indirectly, whether you are a chronic smoker or happen to inhale secondhand smoke. The reality is that tobacco smoking deaths are preventable. By increasing awareness and education around the effects of cigarette smoking, everyone can work together to reduce smoking-related health problems in the world. Finding a way to quit smoking is the first step to living a longer, healthier life.

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