Most people know that smoking can cause lung cancer, but it can also cause many other cancers and illnesses.
Smoking directly causes over 100,000 deaths in the UK each year and contributes to many more.
Of these deaths, 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.
How do cigarettes damage health?
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.
As a cigarette burns, the residues are concentrated towards the butt.
The products that are most damaging are:
- tar, a carcinogen (substance that causes cancer)
- nicotine is addictive and increases cholesterol levels in your body
- carbon monoxide reduces oxygen in the body
- components of the gas and particulate phases cause chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD).
The damage caused by smoking is influenced by:
- the number of cigarettes smoked
- whether the cigarette has a filter
- how the tobacco has been prepared.
Smoking affects how long you live
Research has shown that smoking reduces life expectancy by seven to eight years.
Of the 300 people who die every day in the UK as a result of smoking, many are comparatively young smokers.
The number of people under the age of 70 who die from smoking-related diseases exceeds the total figure for deaths caused by breast cancer, AIDS, traffic accidents and drug addiction.
Non-smokers and ex-smokers can also look forward to a healthier old age than smokers.