Health Risks

There’s no safe amount of smoking

Whether you’re a daily or occasional smoker, smoking increases the risk of damage to your lungs, blood vessels and cells throughout your body. It can cause serious health problems for you and everyone around you. It can even lead to death.

Short-term effects

If you’re not feeling it already, it probably won’t be long before you start noticing the damage caused by smoking cigarettes, including:

Lung damage

Shortness of breath, coughing, mucus and chest infections are signs that smoking is damaging your lungs.

Skin damage

Lowered blood flow from smoking makes your skin look leathery and wrinkly, stains your skin and slows healing.

Mouth problems

Smoking stains your teeth, gives you bad breath and puts you at a higher risk of gum disease and oral cancer.

Stomach ulcers

Smoking can make you more prone to peptic ulcers and makes them take longer to heal.


Being a smoker can make you twice as likely to develop psoriasis, an itchy and often painful rash.

Smoking is the leading preventable cause of premature death and disease in Canada.

Long-term effects

The longer you smoke, the higher your chances are of developing serious health problems.

Lung disease

Cigarettes cause chronic lung problems like asthma, emphysema, bronchitis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Heart Disease

As a smoker, you’re up to 4 times more likely to develop heart disease than someone who doesn’t smoke.

Throat cancer

Smoking causes throat cancer, which can destroy all or part of your vocal cords.

Lung cancer

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in Canada, and about 85% of new cases are caused by smoking.

Oral cancer

The risk of oral cancer is 5 to 10 times higher among smokers than people who have never smoked.


Smokers are 2 to 3 times more likely to develop age-related macular degeneration, which can lead to blindness.

Bladder cancer

Toxic chemicals in tobacco smoke damage the lining of the bladder, causing cancer.

Kidney cancer

Smoking is one of the leading risk factors for kidney cancer.

Additional health concerns for females

Reproductive issues and pregnancy

Smoking is linked to a number of serious reproductive health issues in women, putting female smokers at increased risk for:


  • cervical cancer
  • menstrual problems
  • early menopause
  • lower estrogen levels
  • difficulty getting pregnant
  • miscarriage
  • premature delivery


Mothers who smoke after their baby is born can pass on nicotine and other chemicals through their milk. But it is important to note that a smoker’s breast milk is still better than formula, in regards to a baby’s development.

Additional health concerns for males

Sexual Health

Smoking can lead to impotence or erectile dysfunction. Over time, smoking affects the nervous, endocrine and vascular systems, which are all responsible for maintaining erections. Smoking also leads to blocked arteries, which can cause impotence. Men who smoke are twice as likely to experience erectile dysfunction.

If you think you’re immune to these problems, think again. Damage caused by smoking builds up over time, and could still show up in the future. The good news? If you quit smoking now, you can partially or fully recover any erectile function you may have lost.

Second-hand smoke

The levels of some of the cancer-causing chemicals in a cigarette can be higher in second-hand smoke than in what’s inhaled by the smoker, putting those near you at an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, cancer and lung disease.


And if second-hand smoke is so dangerous to other adults around you, imagine how it affects those who are more vulnerable:


Kids breathe faster and weigh less than adults, so they have an even harder time with tobacco smoke. They’re more likely to suffer ear infections, coughing, breathing problems and lung issues.

Cats and dogs

Studies have shown that second-hand smoke can affect your pets, too. Cats that live with smokers have a higher risk of developing oral cancer and leukemia, and dogs are more likely to develop lung cancer.


Your furry friends don’t just inhale smoke, either. It gets trapped in their fur and ingested when they groom themselves with their tongues.

What’s left behind

Toxic chemicals from second-hand tobacco smoke remain in rugs, curtains, clothes, food, furniture, skin, hair and other materials in the house long after the cigarette is extinguished.


Researchers found that second-hand smoke remains in contaminated dust and surfaces, even if smoking took place days, weeks or months earlier.

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