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Most people believe that smoking reduces stress levels but new research indicates that the opposite could be true; smoking probably causes anxiety - while quitting relieves it.

British researchers at Oxford University and King’s College London measured anxiety levels in 633 smokers.    All were participating in the NHS smoking cessation programme.   After 6 months only 68 were still abstaining but they experienced a 9 point decrease in anxiety levels, while those who abstained briefly before starting to smoke again experienced a 3 point increase in anxiety levels.  


Smoking directly causes over 100,000 deaths in the UK each year.   Of these, about 42,800 are from smoking-related cancers, 30,600 from cardiovascular disease and 29,100 die slowly from emphysema and other chronic lung diseases.

Cigarettes contain more than 4000 chemical compounds and at least 400 toxic substances.

  • When you inhale, a cigarette burns at 700°C at the tip and around 60°C in the core. This heat breaks down the tobacco to produce various toxins such as;
  • Tar, a carcinogen (substance that causes cancer) and nicotine.   Nicotine is addictive and increases cholesterol levels. Carbon monoxide reduces oxygen and components can cause chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD).

Major diseases caused by smoking

Cardiovascular disease

Cardiovascular disease is the main cause of death due to smoking.

Hardening and narrowing of the arteries (atherosclerosis) is accelerated by smoking and makes lethal blood clots two to four times more likely.


Smokers are more likely to get cancer than non-smokers, particularly lung, throat and mouth cancer which hardly ever affect non-smokers.   90% of lung cancer cases are due to smoking.

Other types of cancer that are more common in smokers are:

  • bladder cancer
  • cancer of the oesophagus
  • cancer of the kidneys
  • cancer of the pancreas
  • cervical cancer


Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a collective term for a group of conditions that block airflow and make breathing more difficult, such as:

Emphysema – breathlessness caused by damage to the air sacs (alveoli)

Chronic Bronchitis – coughing with a lot of mucus that continues for at least three months.

Smoking is the most common cause of COPD and is responsible for 80 per cent of cases. The final stage is death from slow and progressive breathlessness.

Other risks caused by smoking 

  • Smoking raises blood pressure, which can cause hypertension (high blood pressure) – a risk factor for heart attacks and stroke.
  • Couples who smoke are more likely to have fertility problems than couples who are non-smokers.
  • Smoking worsens asthma and counteracts asthma medication.
  • Blood vessels in the eye can be damaged by smoke; heavy smokers are twice as likely to get macular degeneration, resulting in the gradual loss of eyesight and smokers also run an increased risk of cataracts.
  • Smokers take 25 per cent more sick days per year than non-smokers.
  • Smoking stains your teeth, contributes to mouth ulcers and increases your risk of periodontal disease, which causes swollen gums, bad breath and teeth to fall out.
  • Smokers have paler skin and more wrinkles, because smoking reduces the blood supply to the skin and lowers the levels of vitamin A.
  • For men in their 30s and 40s, smoking increases the risk of erectile dysfunction (ED) by about 50 per cent. 

Smoking and others

Babies born to mothers who smoke during pregnancy are twice as likely to be born prematurely and with a low birth weight.

Passive smoking

  • The 'side-stream' smoke that comes off a cigarette between puffs carries a higher risk than directly inhaled smoke.
  • Children who grow up in a home where one or both of their parents smoke have twice the risk of getting asthma and asthmatic bronchitis.
  • Infants under two years old are more prone to severe respiratory infections and cot death.
  • For adults, passive smoking seems to increase the risk of lung cancer, but the evidence for an increased risk of heart disease is not yet conclusive.


                              So – if you are a smoker, you really need to consider giving up!!




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