Nicotine is the addictive drug that can be found in any cigarette smoke. It is so addictive that it causes causes people who smoke, to continue.
Along with nicotine, people who smoke inhale on average about 7,000 other chemicals in cigarette smoke. Many of these chemicals come from burning tobacco leaf. Some of these compounds are chemically active and trigger profound and damaging changes in the body.
The dangerous chemicals
- tar – Tar is sticky in texture and brown in colour, stains teeth, fingernails and causes damage to the lung tissue. Just remember that the next time you are smoking!
- carbon monoxide – is a poisonous gas. It is odourless and colourless and can cause death when consumed in large doses because it replaces the oxygen in the blood. This makes it difficult to breath as oxygen struggles to get to their organs and muscles
- oxidizing chemicals – These are highly reactive chemicals that can damage the heart muscles and blood vessels. They react with cholesterol, leading to the build-up of fatty material on artery walls. Their negative affects lead to heart disease, stroke and blood vessel disease
- metals – tobacco smoke contains several metals including arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, chromium, cobalt, lead and nickel – these are all cancerous metals
- radioactive compounds – tobacco smoke contains radioactive compounds that are known to be carcinogenic.
Effects of smoking tobacco on the body
Inhaling tobacco smoke causes damage to many of the body’s organs and systems that are imperative for daily function.
Effects of smoking on the respiratory system
The effects of tobacco on the respiratory system:
- irritation of the trachea (windpipe) and larynx (voice box) – throat can feel dry and scratchy
- can cause you to feel out of breath
- causes damage to the lungs
- increased risk of lung infection and symptoms such as coughing and wheezing
- permanent damage to the air sacs of the lungs.
Effects of smoking on the circulatory system
The effects of tobacco on the circulatory system include:
- increased blood pressure and heart rate
- the skin can feel abnormally cold due to the blood vessels restricting the blood-flow
- less oxygen is carried by the blood during exercise
- ‘stickier’ blood, which is more prone to clotting
- there could be a decrease in blood-flow to your fingers and toes
- by smoking, you increase your chances of having a heart attack
Effects of smoking on the immune system
The effects of tobacco on the immune system include:
- There is a greater chance of being diagnosed with pneumonia
- lower levels of antioxidants such as vitamin C
Effects of smoking on the musculoskeletal system
The effects of tobacco on the musculoskeletal system include:
- tightening of certain muscles
- reduced bone density.
Effects of smoking on the sexual organs
The effects of tobacco on the male body include an increased risk for:
- lower sperm count
- genetic damage to sperm
- higher percentage of deformed sperm
The effects of tobacco on the female body include:
- reduced fertility,
- an irregular menstrual cycle, or lack of menstruation
- you entered into menopause a year or two earlier than you should have
- increased risk of cancer of the cervix
- greatly increased risk of stroke and heart attack if the person who smokes is aged over 40 years old
Other effects of smoking on the body
Other effects of tobacco on the body include:
- irritation and inflammation of the stomach and intestines which causes a discomfort
- increased risk of stomach ulcers
- reduced ability to smell and taste overall
- wrinkling of the skin at a young age
- higher risk of blindness
- gum disease – consult your local dentist if you suspect you may be a candidate
Effects of smoking on babies
The effects of smoking whilst pregnant:
- increased risk of miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth
- the baby will have weaker lungs
- increased risk of cleft palate and cleft lip
- increased risk of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Passive smoking (exposure of the non-smoking mother to second-hand smoke) can also harm the fetus.
If a parent continues to smoke during their baby’s first year, the child has a higher chance of attracting ear infections, respiratory illnesses such as pneumonia and bronchitis and sudden unexpected death in infancy
I think it’s safe to say that we have outlined every negative affect smoking has on the lungs, heart, the functioning of organs and the development and survival rate of infants.
Ladies and gentlemen, au pairs, nannies and tutors, should you wish to smoke, that is your own personal choice. But please do so in a designated smoking area or in a facility free of children. Children don’t ask to inhale secondhand smoke so don’t be the reason they do.