As someone who previously smoked, I can tell you that it’s very hard to imagine what it really does to you. It’s only after you quit that you realize how terrible you actually felt. Even if you eat 100% healthy (which, let’s face it, is not happening) and you work out every day of the week (funny!), that simple cigarette is still damaging you far more than all those good things can repair.
Before I get into all the reasons, just imagine this: You pull out a cigarette from your pack. It’s the second to last before you run out. You think to yourself, “Ah, I better buy another pack.” You go to the store, pay your $5-$10, and you’re on your way with another 20 to last you. But how long do 20 cigarettes actually last you? Maybe a day or two? Think about that number. Think about that cost.
Now imagine, you’re standing outside in the cold of winter to get your fix in the middle of the day. Your feet are freezing, your hands are turning blue, but there you are, still willing to brave a storm for that cigarette.
How can that not be addiction?
Now visualize that smoke. Not the smoke you breathe out, but the smoke you breathe in. You inhale, and your lungs expand to make room for what should be beautiful, clean, refreshing air, but instead, it’s holding somewhere near 4,000 chemicals with every drag.
How many drags does it take to finish that cigarette? You need to breath, obviously, so you’re body has no choice but to take that dirty “air” to the far reaches of your body. Those chemicals make it into your gums, into your muscles, into your fat, into every vein all the way down to the tips of your toes… everywhere.
It comes out in your skin. You smell like it. You look like it… but there you are, still outside braving the storm for it.
It’s time to call it quits. There is no excuse you can make to yourself.
You might think, “Yes, but I like smoking. I actually enjoy it.” Do you really, or are you addicted to it? How could you possibly actually like this? It’s killing you from the inside out. The effects you see on the outside happen after they happen on the inside. So, once you start to see those stained teeth and fingers, you better believe it’s already stained your insides.
The effects of smoking on your face
We all know that wrinkles are inevitable. We get them from sun damage, harsh pollutants, some skincare products (eek!) and just old age. However, wouldn’t it be nice to hold on to your youth for a little bit longer? If you’re a smoker, you can look forward to seeing a whole new face in the mirror much sooner than most people.
People who start smoking around the age of 18 can start to see these effects by their mid-twenties. Don’t believe me? Here is a picture of two twins. Can you take a guess at which one is the smoker?
You can expect all these things to happen to your face if you are a smoker:
- Droopy under eyes: Smokers are well known for having more intense under eye bags.
- Uneven skin tone: The chemicals in cigarette smoke dry out the skin and deplete it on nutrients. They also make the skin more susceptible to sun damage. All of these factors make the skin tone uneven.
- Sagging skin: Smoking destroys collagen and elastin. The skin on the face will sag much more than a nonsmoker’s.
- Lines around the lips: Constant perking of the lips and chemicals entering and exiting the mouth cause tiny, deep wrinkles to appear around the mouth.
- Bad teeth: Yellow teeth, tooth loss, gum deterioration, bad breath
- Vision problems: Cataracts (light can’t reach the retina) are often developed in smokers. This can only be fixed with surgery.
- Deeper wrinkles: Everyone gets wrinkles, but smokers will experience more wrinkles and they will be deeper than the wrinkles nonsmokers get.
- Hair loss: The chemicals in cigarettes cause discoloration and dryness of the hair as well as hair loss, especially in men.
It doesn’t just stop with your face though…
The effects of smoking on your body
If the effects smoking has on your face are not enough, here are the effects it has on your body. If you’re a young smoker, then it may be hard for you to believe that these things are actually happening, since your body is much better at removing toxins and repairing itself now, but trust that looks don’t last forever, especially not for smokers. Even those in their 20’s can start seeing the effects.
You can expect all of these things to happen to your body as a smoker:
- Sagging skin: Smoking ruins collagen and causes the skin to sag. Unfortunately, after a certain point, the only thing that can change this is surgery, which usually is not an option for most people. The only way to keep this from happening is not smoking.
- Stained fingers and nails: The tar in cigarette smoke causes your fingers and nails to turn a gross yellow color.
- Psoriasis: Smokers are 2 times more likely to develop psoriasis.
- Store fat around your waist: While smoking is associated with a lower body weight, when weight is gained, it is more commonly found around the waist in smokers. Weight gain in this area makes a person more prone to heart disease and diabetes.
As you know, the effects of smoking don’t stop with your looks. They are far reaching and go right to the core of your body.
The effects of smoking on the inside
– Increased risk of sickness: Common colds and flus become even more common in smokers. They also last much longer in smokers, especially if they continue to smoke while they are sick.
This happens because smoking paralyzes the cilia in your respiratory tract. Cilia are little tiny hairs that wave around and move toxic waste out of your body, which may cause problems. However, if these are paralyzed, they can’t do their job.
- Increased healing time: Wounds heal much slower for smokers.
- Weak lungs: We all know that smoking ruins your lungs, but did you know that the damage to the lungs can cause chronic obstructive pulmonary disease? COPD is behind chronic bronchitis and emphysema. About 9 out of 10 people who die from COPD are smokers.
- Early menopause: Women who smoke start menopause about two years earlier than non smokers. Having menopause early increases your risk for diseases such as heart disease.
- Pregnancy problems: Smokers have an incredibly difficult time conceiving, especially in couples where both the man and the woman smoke. Unfortunately, even if you quit while you are trying to conceive, you may still have trouble. It can take up to a year for your reproductive organs to repair themselves enough to be able to handle carrying a child.
- Blood clots: Blood clots are a very common occurrence in smokers, especially for those who take contraceptive pills. In fact, you are 9 times more likely to develop a blood clot if you smoke and take the pill.
- Bad circulation: If you experience cold hands and feet all the time, this could be a sign that smoking has indeed began to effect your circulation. Bad circulation and blood clots go hand in hand. Together, they increase your risk for heart attack and stroke. For those who smoke an average of 20 cigarettes a day, the risk of stroke is about 5 times more likely than for those who do not smoke.
- Physical addiction: Smoking addiction causes a change in your brain. The chemicals in the brain shift and start firing in incorrect ways, which is why you feel “light headed” when you smoke. Because it physically changes your brain and the way it works, quitting is extremely difficult. Many people relapse because they are physically addicted to the substances.
- Weak bones: Smoking makes you more susceptible to osteoporosis and other bone issues. Also, because the bones are weak, it makes you more likely to break bones and also makes them take longer to heal.
- Damaged DNA: The chemicals in smoke damage the cells and the DNA, which causes incorrect DNA to be copied over and over. This can cause the cells to overgrow and turn into tumors, some of which are cancerous or otherwise harmful.
The list doesn’t stop here, it goes on and on. If this list if not enough, then we can’t forget one other very important reason to quit smoking: others.
The effects of smoking on others
Secondhand smoke is more damaging than the smoke you yourself inhale. It’s no surprise though, there are more than 4,000 chemicals exhaled into the breathing air of those around you. Many of those chemicals are carcinogens, which means that they cause cancer. In children, secondhand smoke can cause bad asthma. In adults, it can cause lung cancer and cardiovascular disease.
People inhaling secondhand smoke get the same exact chemicals as the smoker. So, whether you’re a smoker or just in a smokers circle, you’re still doing yourself harm.
Luckily, smoking is becoming less and less popular, and nonsmokers are becoming more aware of the harms of secondhand smoke. Smokers are becoming a minority and looked down on in social situations. Many states are creating more laws about where people are allowed to smoke. While smokers are annoyed with these laws, most citizens have been very pleased with the increased awareness.
We hope that after reading all of these effects of smoking you’ll finally find it in you to quit. After all, there is not one benefit to smoking! Some say that it calms them down, but so do other really positive things like yoga and walking. Any day is the best day to quit smoking.
Yes, it takes a lot of will power, and you might fail a few times before you get it totally right, but just keep on trying! Even after one day of not smoking, your body begins to repair itself and your risk of heart disease lowers.
QuitSmokingSupport explains just what happens as soon as you decide to quit smoking:
- Blood pressure drops to normal.
- Pulse rate drops to normal.
- Body temperature of hands and feet increases to normal.
- Carbon monoxide level in blood drops to normal.
- Oxygen level in blood increases to normal.
- Chance of heart attack decreases.
- Nerve endings start re-growing.
- Ability to smell and taste is enhanced.
2 WEEKS TO 3 MONTHS
- Circulation improves.
- Walking becomes easier.
- Lung function increases up to 30%.
1 TO 9 MONTHS
- Coughing, sinus congestion, fatigue, and shortness of breath decrease.
- Cilia regrow in lungs, increasing ability to handle mucus, clean the lungs, and reduce infection.
- Body's overall energy increases.
- Excess risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a smoker.
- Lung cancer death rate for average smoker (one pack a day) decreases by almost half.
- Stroke risk is reduced to that of a nonsmoker 5-15 years after quitting.
- Risk of cancer of the mouth, throat and esophagus is half that of a smoker's.
- Lung cancer death rate similar to that of nonsmokers.
- Precancerous cells are replaced.
- Risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, kidney and pancreas decreases.
- Risk of coronary heart disease is that of a nonsmoker.
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