The Human Truth Foundation

The Effects of Smoking on Health

By Vexen Crabtree 2018


#health #IQ #parenting #smoking

Smoking is the biggest preventable course of disease in the world1,2,3 and is a direct cause of many types of cancer4. Smoking risks chronic bronchitis, emphysema and asthma and heart problems, and its damage to your breathing makes smokers less likely to exercise5. It increases aging by damaging DNA; each year you smoke a pack per day, you age the equivalent of 2 years6. Half of all long-term smokers will die from a related disease7. Giving up smoking reduces your risk of Coronary Heart Disease by half within a year of stopping8. It reduces average life spans by 12 to 15 years9, killing more than 5m people a year9 (in 2008 - it's more now). Since anecdotal evidence began in the 17th century10, the dangerous health risks of smoking are attested to by more evidence than for any other cause of disease.

Smoking does not just effect those who chose to smoke. Being subject to smokers' fumes ('passive smoking') also causes harmful side-effects11 including cancer, heart disease, asthma and lung damage8,12. This has been particularly problematic for children and those who work in restaurants and public houses13. Mothers who smoke risk their own babies5,14,15 and cause them lower IQ16,17, ADHD17 and behavioural problems16.

1. Negative Effects on Health

#health #smoking

Smoking is listed amongst "the most significant" causes of ill health1 and is the biggest preventable course of disease in the world2. Smoking causes cancer4 and increases the rate of ageing, by damaging the DNA inside cells. "Smoking a pack per day for four years corresponds to 7.4 years of ageing"6. "Giving up smoking is the single most important thing you can do to improve your heart health. [...] Within one year of stopping, your risk [of Coronary Heart Disease] is reduced by about half"8.

Smoking carries a substantial risk of developing a range of lung problems, such as chronic bronchitis, emphysema and asthma, as well as a 20-fold increase in the likelihood of developing lung cancer. It constricts blood vessels, which can cause heart problems, cardiovascular disease, and stroke. This risk is often compounded by difficulties with heavy breathing, which make smokers less likely to take exercise and more likely to be overweight.

"Drugs" by David Nutt (2017)5

There is more evidence of the harmful effects of smoking than there is on almost every other health issue. Even before we formulated the processes for proper scientific studies, alarm-bells were raised. In 1604, King James the First, England, warned that smoking was dangerous for the lungs10. A London doctor in the 1700s detected a link between tobacco and cancers of the nose10, and "by the 1850s the health effects of tobacco were being debated by medical professionals in the Lancet"10.

Tobacco smoke is highly toxic. It contains at least 60 chemicals known or suspected to cause cancer in humans, including arsenic, benzene and lead, as well as carbon monoxide, which damages the heart and blood vessels.

"Drugs" by David Nutt (2017)5

The first strong evidence of a link between lung cancer and tobacco-smoking was published in 1912, and over the next four decades the evidence mounted. When the results of Richard Doll's study of 40,000 doctors over a period of 20 years was published in the 1950s, showing a 20-fold increase in the likelihood of developing lung cancer among smokers, a causal relationship seemed incontrovertible. [...] By the early 1960s, it had become clear that tobacco is a highly addictive drug with serious health consequences for the millions of people hooked on it, and is the biggest cause of preventable death in the developed world.

"Drugs" by David Nutt (2017)3

2. Death

#death #health #smoking #UK

Half of all long-term smokers will die from disease related to their smoking7 - the World Health Organisation reports that every year, 5 million people die early due to the effects of tobacco consumption9,2.

Despite decades of work by health campaigners, more than one billion people still smoke today. Smoking kills up to half of those who fail to quit puffing, reducing their lives by an average of 12 to 15 years. The World Health Organisation (WHO) says more than 5m people a year die early from the effects (direct or indirect) of tobacco. That exceeds the toll of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

"Stub out that weed for ever" in The Economist (2008 Jul 26)18

Case Example: The UK: In the UK smoking is one of the leading causes of death in people under 65 years old11. In 1998 the UK's Health Education Authority estimated that smoking causes 111 000 deaths per year, amounting to 17 per cent of all deaths19. The same year, the Secretary of State for Health stated a slightly worse figure of 120 000 deaths per year20.

It has been estimated that for every 1000 young smokers, one will be murdered, six will be killed in a road accident and 250 will die before their time because they smoke.

Secretary of State for Health (1998)21

3. Passive Smoking ('Second-Hand Smoke')

#health #smoking

Others who live with smokers, who drive in cars with them, and who otherwise share airspace with them, suffer side-effects as a result of inhaling the smoke11. A non-smoker who lives with smokers has an increased risk of coronary heart disease8. These risks are important enough to lead governments to ban smoking in public places in order to protect those who chose not to smoke, and, of particular need of protection are those who work in restaurants and public houses13.

A review by the UK Scientific Committee on Tobacco and Health in 2004 found that exposure to second-hand smoke contributes to medical conditions such as lung cancer, heart disease, asthma attacks and reduced lung function. Two years later, the US Surgeon General reiterated these findings, emphasising that children are particularly at risk, and may suffer ear problems, acute respiratory infections, more severe asthma, slower lung growth, and an increased risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome ("cot death"). Although the risks are much lower than for those who smoke themselves, second-hand smoke is still responsible for 600,000 deaths a year worldwide.

"Drugs" by David Nutt (2017)12

4. The Effects on Unborn Children of Their Mother Smoking

#health #parenting #smoking

Advice to stop smoking is often given by doctors to pregnant women from the onset of pregnancy because there are biological risks to the foetus when a mother smokes5. Smoking by mothers causes a range of disadvantages for the future lives of their baby; it is linked with lower IQ and ADHD17. Avoiding smoking, and avoiding passive smoking, both help mothers protect their unborn babies and gives them the best chance at a healthy birth14.

Book CoverSmoking during pregnancy is associated with more miscarriages, vaginal bleeding, premature births and low birth-weight babies. [...] Even if you have smoked for many years, if you stop before you conceive your baby has the same chance of good health as a non-smoker's baby. [...] If you quit before month 4 of pregnancy you protect your baby from the worst effects of smoking. [...] Even quitting in month 9 [may help].

"Healthy Pregnancy" by Gill Thorn (2003)14
Repeated verbatim in "Pregnancy (Practical Parenting)" (2007)22

The British Medical Journal in 2005 reported16 that:

Current edition: 2018 Jan 2323
Parent page: The Side Effects of Smoking. Which Countries Smoke Most?

All #tags used on this page - click for more:

#death #health #IQ #parenting #smoking #UK

Social Media

References: (What's this?)

Book Cover

Book Cover

Book Cover

Book Cover

Book Cover

British Medical Journal magazine. Published by the British Medical Association, Tavistock Square, London, UK. Weekly science magazine. In print since 1840CE.

The Economist. Published by The Economist Group, Ltd. A weekly newspaper in magazine format, famed for its accuracy, wide scope and intelligent content. See for some commentary on this source. A newspaper.

The Guardian. UK newspaper. See Which are the Best and Worst Newspapers in the UK?. Respectable and generally well researched UK broadsheet newspaper.

(2007) Pregnancy (Practical Parenting). Subtitled: "All Your Questions Answered". Published by Hamlyn, London, UK. A paperback book.

BBC. The British Broadcasting Corporation.
(2014) Burning Desire: The Seduction of Smoking. A two-part television documentary first shown on 2014 May 29 featuring the veteran journalist and investigator, Peter Taylor.

British Heart Foundation
(2012) Women and Heart Disease. Published by the British Heart Foundation, London, UK. There is no year of publication stated in the booklet, but its copyright notice states 2012. A leaflet.

Davison & Neale
(1997) Abnormal Psychology. 7th edition. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Amazon link points to a newer edition than the one I've used here. A hardback book.

Jackson, Stephen
(1998) Britain's Population: Demographic Issues in Contemporary Society. Published by Routledge.

New Zealand Ministry of Health
(2017 Jul 28) Health effects of smoking. Date last accessed 2018 Jan 23. An article.

Nutt, David. David Nutt was the UK's chairman of the Advisory Council of the Misuse of Drugs.
(2017) Drugs. Subtitled: "Without the Hot Air: Minimising the Harms of Legal and Illegal Drugs". Published by UIT. An e-book.

Peters, Michael Dr
(2011) Family Doctor Home Advisor. 4th edition. Published by Dorling Kindersley Limited, London, UK. Published for the British Medical Association. A hardback book.

Public Health England (PHE)
(2013) Our priorities for 2013/14. Booklet published in 2013 April. PHE are the government body responsible for national health and wellbeing. PHE publication gateway number 2013007.

Secretary of State for Health
(1998) Our Healthier Nation: A Contract for Health. Government consultation paper presented to Parliament (CM3852).

Thorn, Gill
(2003) Healthy Pregnancy. Published by Hamlyn, Octopus Publishing Group Ltd, London, UK.


  1. PHE (2013). p5.^^
  2. BBC (2014). Episode 1.^^^
  3. Nutt (2017). Chapter 11 "Why was smoking banned in public places?" p197,202.^^
  4. Nutt (2017). Chapter 11 "Why was smoking banned in public places?" p199.^^
  5. Nutt (2017). Chapter 11 "Why was smoking banned in public places?" p194.^^^
  6. Smoking and fat speed up ageing, say researchers (2005 Jun 14). In UK newspaper The Guardian.^^
  7. New Zealand Ministry of Health (2017 Jul 28) .^^
  8. British Heart Foundation (2012). p28.^^^
  9. Stub out that weed for ever (2008 Jul 26). In newspaper The Economist.^^
  10. Nutt (2017). Chapter 11 "Why was smoking banned in public places?" p197.^^
  11. Peters (2011). Chapter "Healthy Living" p28-32.^^^
  12. Nutt (2017). Chapter 11 "Why was smoking banned in public places?" p195.^^
  13. Nutt (2017). Chapter 11 "Why was smoking banned in public places?" p192.^^
  14. Thorn (2003). p6,24.^^
  15. Pregnancy (Practical Parenting) (2007). p13.^
  16. British Medical Journal (2005 Mar 05). Volume 330 article "Smoking in late pregnancy is linked to lower IQ in offspring" p499.^^
  17. Davison & Neale (1997). p411.^^
  18. "Stub out that weed for ever" (2008 Jul 26). In newspaper The Economist.^
  19. Jackson (1998). p93.^
  20. Secretary of State for Health (1998). Para2.21.^
  21. Secretary of State for Health (1998). p21.^
  22. "Pregnancy (Practical Parenting)" (2007). p13.^
  23. 2018 Jan 23: Based on text extracted from "The Side Effects of Smoking. Which Countries Smoke Most?" by Vexen Crabtree (2014)^

©2019 Vexen Crabtree all rights reserved.
This site uses the HTF Disclaimer (as linked here)