Tobacco use and Health. Part 1: Smoking and Overall Health

This is the first of a series of articles on the effect of tobacco use on health. Through these articles I will present facts pertaining to various aspects of the tobacco problem.

Most content for this series will be sourced from the US CDC and WHO.

Disclaimer: Content sourced from the US CDC may contain statistics that are accurate only for the US. However, the emphasis is more on the underlying health message than the statistic itself. 

Key Messages:

Smokers die 10 or more years earlier than non-smokers.

Smokers are generally much less healthy than non-smokers:

  • they fall sick more often than non-smokers
  • they visit the hospital more often than non-smokers
  • they miss work more often than non-smokers

Smoking harms the body’s immune system and can make it less successful at fighting disease.

Smoking also makes the body more susceptible to auto-immune diseases by disrupting the equilibrium (balance) of the immune system.

Cigarette smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals; 70 of which are known to cause cancer.

New! Smoking is a cause for rheumatoid arthritis. It also reduces the effectiveness of treatments for rheumatoid arthritis. 

Diseases that can be worsened by smoking include:

  • viral and bacterial infections, especially of the lungs (for example, pneumonia, influenza, tuberculosis);
  • periodontal or gum disease;
  • bacterial meningitis (a disease that attacks the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord);
  • infections that occur after surgery;
  • rheumatoid arthritis;
  • Crohn’s disease (a serious disease of the digestive system); and
  • cancer.

Health consequences of cigarette smoking (Conditions in red are new):


Useful Links:

Link to CDC’s fact sheet on Smoking and overall health:

Link to the image depicting health consequences of cigarette smoking



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