How Dangerous is Cigarette Smoke?

Erin J. Hill

Cigarette smoke is highly dangerous to both the smoker and anyone around to inhale the secondhand smoke. Smoking is considered to be one of the most detrimental things one can do to their health, and it is the number one cause of preventable death in most industrialized nations. In fact, smoking causes more deaths per year than illegal drugs, homicide, AIDS, and car accidents put together.

Smoking can cause pregnancy complications and birth defects.
Smoking can cause pregnancy complications and birth defects.

There are various ways cigarette smoke can damage health. The first is tar, which accumulates in the lungs and slowly smothers the healthy tubes, bronchi, and receptors. This can lead to breathing difficulties, cancer, and other health problems. The lack of oxygen in the body can also eventually lead to heart problems.

Many US businesses have banned smoking tobacco indoors.
Many US businesses have banned smoking tobacco indoors.

Cigarette smoke is also dangerous to anyone around a smoker because the tar, carbon monoxide and other substances which are present in the cigarettes enter his or her lungs in concentrated amounts. This can lead to many of the same health problems smokers deal with if exposure is frequent and long-lasting. Smokers are urged to take their habit outdoors, and those who do not smoke are advised to stay away from smoky areas like bars or the smoking section of restaurants.

Nicotine patches can be a safer alternative to smoking.
Nicotine patches can be a safer alternative to smoking.

Carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke hinders the lungs' ability to do their job because it is absorbed in the blood in the place of oxygen. Over time, this can put a major strain on the heart and lungs because they both must work harder to get the necessary oxygen pumped throughout the body. Disease is often the result.

Exposure to secondhand smoke can increase the risk of SIDS and respiratory illnesses in children.
Exposure to secondhand smoke can increase the risk of SIDS and respiratory illnesses in children.

Common illnesses associated with cigarette smoke include heart disease, emphysema, and lung cancers. All of these are potentially fatal and can make life much more difficult in sufferers even if death does not occur. Those who are diagnosed with a smoking-related illness are often urged to stop smoking. This is not always possible, due to cigarettes’ addictive nature.

Cigarette smoke is even more dangerous when the effects of nicotine, a substance found in tobacco, is taken into account. Nicotine causes addiction to cigarettes, leading to continued smoking in most people. Some research suggests that cigarettes are harder to quit than heroin and other illegal drugs. Not only is it addictive, but nicotine also raises blood pressure and increases heart rate, putting further stress on the body.

Patches, gum, lozenges, and electronic cigarettes are all available to help smokers quit. They all work by replacing the nicotine in cigarettes with a lesser form which can slowly be decreased even further. Those who quit smoking have a good chance of living a full life, as it is possible for the body to heal itself from past damage due to smoking.

Nicotine is believed to be as mentally addictive as heroin.
Nicotine is believed to be as mentally addictive as heroin.

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Discussion Comments


I'm doing a research report on banning cigarettes, but one question is "Why are cigarettes so addictive?" Any help?


@Sunny27 -I think that is a great idea. When you have a habit that kills so many people and destroys their health we really need to be proactive in helping people kick the habit.

The government could also give grants to pharmaceutical companies in order to encourage them to develop drugs that can combat nicotine addiction so that smokers could have more options when choosing to quit smoking.

I heard that smoking is incredibly addictive so hospitals around the country could offer some form of inpatient care that could be covered by insurance so then the smoker could have a greater chance to end this destructive habit.


@Cafe41 -I know that it terrible. I want to say that many people that suffer from prolong second hand smoke exposure can also develop asthma and breathing disorders.

I had friend that developed asthma as an adult from years of inhaling second hand smoke. I wish there were more programs to help people quit smoking because it is really a problem for society.

I even heard of a hospital refusing to hire employees that smoked because of the potential health problems that they would develop which would reduce their productivity.

It also costs more to ensure someone that smokes which is another reason why companies are thinking about this option when hiring new employees.

I think that government could offer grants to companies to develop their own in house program to get people to stop smoking.


@Cafe41 - That is really a good idea. I know that a lot of people have a hard time trying to quit smoking cigarettes. You know it must be addictive when even knowing that you will develop lung cancer is not enough to get you to stop smoking cigarettes.

They even say that third hand smoke which is cigarette smoke odor found in clothing can also be damaging. Smelling cigarette smoke on your clothing is terrible.

In my building, there are a few smokers on my floor, and I can still smell the smoke when I go into the hall. To smell cigarette smoke like that is awful especially when you are not a smoker.

Second hand cigarette smoke does affect people in damaging ways and some people even develop cancer as a result which is why I think that they should not allow people to smoke in buildings.

I had to buy several air freshening sprays to condition the air in the hall way in order to remove the cigarette smoke. I also had to place a door catcher underneath my door so that the smell won't get into my unit.


I think that the same way the schools have a Red Ribbon week in which they get involved in an anti-drug campaign, there should be an anti-smoking week as well. Young children could be taught about the cigarette smoke effects and how it can destroy one’s lungs.

When children learn at a young age how devastating this can be on their health most will never start. We should show them movies of people that developed emphysema or lung cancer so that they could see the real effects of cigarette smoking.

While these images may be graphic, they will always stay in the minds of these young kids and when they grow up they will be too scared to even start smoking.

This will go a long way in getting kids to never start. I know that ideas that my parents instilled in me as a kid continued to stay with me as an adult.

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