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Cigarette Smoking and your Health

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jun 6, 2022.

What are the risks to my health if I smoke tobacco?

Nicotine and other chemicals found in tobacco and e-cigarettes can damage every cell in your body. Even if you are a light smoker, you have an increased risk for cancer, heart disease, and lung disease. If you are pregnant or have diabetes, smoking increases your risk for complications. Nicotine can affect an adolescent's developing brain. This can lead to trouble thinking, learning, or paying attention.

What are the benefits to my health if I stop smoking?

  • You decrease respiratory symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath.
  • You reduce your risk for cancers of the lung, mouth, throat, kidney, bladder, pancreas, stomach, and cervix. If you already have cancer, you increase the benefits of chemotherapy. You also reduce your risk for cancer returning or a second cancer from developing.
  • You reduce your risk for heart disease, blood clots, heart attack, and stroke.
  • You reduce your risk for lung infections, and diseases such as pneumonia, asthma, chronic bronchitis, and emphysema.
  • Your circulation improves. More oxygen can be delivered to your body. If you have diabetes, you lower your risk for complications, such as kidney, artery, and eye diseases. You also lower your risk for nerve damage. Nerve damage can lead to amputations, poor vision, and blindness.
  • You improve your body's ability to heal and to fight infections.
  • An adolescent can help his or her brain and body develop in a healthy way. Talk to your adolescent about all the health risks of nicotine. If you can, start talking about nicotine when your child is younger than 12 years. This may make it easier for him or her not to start using nicotine as a teenager or adult. Explain to him or her that it is best never to start. It can be hard to try to quit later.

What are the health benefits to others if I stop smoking?

Tobacco is harmful to nonsmokers who breathe in your secondhand smoke. The following are ways the health of others around you may improve when you stop smoking:

  • You lower the risks for lung cancer and heart disease in nonsmoking adults.
  • If you are pregnant, you lower the risk for miscarriage, early delivery, low birth weight, and stillbirth. You also lower your baby's risk for SIDS, obesity, developmental delay, and neurobehavioral problems, such as ADHD.
  • If you have children, you lower their risk for ear infections, colds, pneumonia, bronchitis, and asthma.

Where can I find support and more information?

  • American Lung Association
    1301 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
    Washington , DC 20004
    Phone: 1- 202 - 785-3355
    Phone: 1- 800 - 548-8252
    Web Address:
    Phone: 1- 800 - 784-8669
    Web Address:

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