Smoking and its health effects


Image via Dr. Vikram Kekatpure


When a chemical is burned, the accompanying smoke is usually breathed in to be tasted and taken into the circulation. This technique is known as smoking. The material used most frequently is made up of dried tobacco plant leaves that have been wrapped into a small rectangle of rolling paper to form a tiny, spherical cylinder known as a cigarette. Because the burning of the dried plant leaves vaporizes and distributes active compounds into the lungs, where they are quickly absorbed into the circulation and reach body tissue, smoking is predominantly used as a method of administration for recreational drug use.

Tobacco : what is it?

The leaves of the tobacco plant are harvested and dried before being fermented and used in tobacco products. Nicotine is a component of tobacco that may cause addiction, which is why so many tobacco users have trouble quitting. Numerous more potentially dangerous compounds can be detected in tobacco or produced when it is burned.

Image via Dr. Reddy’s Pancreatic Health

How does tobacco consumption occur?

Tobacco can be smoked, chewed, or sniffed. Cigars, bidis, kreteks, and cigarettes are examples of smoked tobacco products. Some folks will also use a pipe or hookah to smoke loose tobacco (water pipe). Chewing tobacco products include snuff, dip, snus, and chewing tobacco; snuff can also be smelled.

The effects of tobacco on the brain

When a person consumes a tobacco product, the nicotine easily gets into the blood. Nicotine quickly causes the adrenal glands to produce the hormone epinephrine as it enters the bloodstream (adrenaline). The central nervous system is stimulated by epinephrine, which also raises heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration. Nicotine triggers the brain’s reward circuits and raises levels of the chemical messenger dopamine, just like drugs like cocaine and heroin do, which reinforce rewarding behaviors. According to studies, acetaldehyde and other compounds in tobacco smoke may boost nicotine’s effects on the brain.

What additional negative consequences on health might smoking cause?

Although nicotine is addictive, other compounds in tobacco are mostly responsible for the harmful health consequences. Smoking tobacco can cause emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and lung cancer. It raises the chance of developing heart disease, which can cause a heart attack or stroke. Smoking has also been connected to leukaemia, cataracts, Type 2 Diabetes, and pneumonia in addition to other malignancies. Any smoked substance, including hookah tobacco, has the same hazards. Smokeless tobacco raises the danger of developing cancer, particularly mouth cancer.

Smoking increases the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, early birth, and low birth weight in unborn children in pregnant women. Children exposed to pregnant smokers may potentially experience learning and behavioral issues. Secondhand smoke, which either emanates from the burning end of the tobacco product or is exhaled by the person who is smoking, is exposed to those who stand or sit close to those who smoke. Lung cancer and heart problems can also result from exposure to secondhand smoking. Both adults and children who have it may have health issues such coughing, phlegm, decreased lung function, pneumonia, and bronchitis. Children who are exposed to secondhand smoke are more likely to get ear infections, severe asthma, lung infections, and die from SIDS.

Electronic Cigarettes :

Image via Research & resources


The battery-operated devices known as electronic cigarettes, sometimes referred to as e-cigarettes or e-vaporizers, deliver nicotine along with flavourings and other compounds to the lungs as vapour rather than smoke. Because they don’t burn tobacco, e-cigarette firms frequently promote them as being safer than regular cigarettes. However, the health concerns associated with utilising these gadgets are not well understood by researchers.

How can using cigarettes cause addiction?

Addiction develops in many tobacco users as a result of the altered brain chemistry caused by prolonged nicotine exposure. An individual may have withdrawal symptoms when attempting to stop, such as:

  • irritability \problems
  • paying attention
  • difficulty sleeping
  • increased hunger
  • strong cigarette urges

How can someone who is addicted to nicotine receive treatment?

Both behavioral therapies and pharmaceuticals can aid in smoking cessation, but the combination of medicine and counselling is more successful than each approach by itself. A nationwide toll-free quitline, 1-800-QUIT-NOW, has been established by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to act as a resource for anybody looking for advice and assistance in quitting smoking.

Treatments for Behavior

Behavioral therapies include a range of techniques, from counselling to self-help books, to assist smokers in giving up the habit. These therapies help patients identify risky circumstances and create coping mechanisms for them. For instance, those who socialize with smokers are more likely to smoke and less likely to give up.

Treatments for Nicotine Dependence

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) initially authorized nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs) for use in smoking cessation treatment. The list of NRT drugs that the FDA has currently authorized includes lozenges, transdermal patches, nasal sprays, inhalers, and gum. While a person tries to stop smoking, NRTs offer a regulated dosage of nicotine to ease withdrawal symptoms.

Additional Medications

FDA-approved non-nicotine drugs varenicline (Chantix®) and bupropion (Zyban®) have assisted patients in quitting smoking. They work by preventing the effects of nicotine if people start smoking again by targeting nicotine receptors in the brain.

Nicotine overdose: is it possible?

Overdoses from nicotine are rare, although they are conceivable. Nicotine is toxic. An overdose happens when a person consumes too much of a substance, triggering a toxic response that can cause fatal or very damaging symptoms. Young infants who swallow e-cigarette juice or mistakenly chew on nicotine gum or patches used to stop smoking are most likely to get nicotine poisoning. Breathing problems, nausea, dizziness, headaches, weakness, and an elevated or lowered heart rate are among the symptoms. Anyone who suspects a kid or adult may have a nicotine overdose should seek emergency medical attention.

Things to Keep in Mind

  • The leaves of the tobacco plant are harvested and dried before being fermented and used in tobacco products. Nicotine, a component of tobacco that can cause addiction, is present.
  • Tobacco can be smoked, chewed, or sniffed.
  • Nicotine affects the brain by causing the production of the hormone epinephrine (adrenaline) from the adrenal glands and by raising dopamine levels.
  • Smoking tobacco can cause emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and lung cancer. It raises the chance of developing heart disease, which can cause a heart attack or stroke. Leukemia, cataracts, pneumonia, and various malignancies have all been connected to smoking. Smokeless tobacco raises the danger of developing cancer, particularly mouth cancer.
  • Both adults and children who are exposed to secondhand smoke risk developing heart disease and lung cancer, among other health problems.
  • Many tobacco users develop addiction as a result of the brain alterations brought on by prolonged nicotine exposure.
  • People who want to stop smoking can benefit from both behavioural therapies and medicine, but medication and therapy work better together than each one does on its own.
  • Though it generally happens to young children who unintentionally chew on nicotine gum or patches or swallow e-cigarette juice, nicotine overdose is a possibility.
  • Anyone who suspects a kid or adult may have a nicotine overdose should seek emergency medical attention.


The sizes and forms of e-cigarettes vary widely. The majority feature a heating element, a battery, and a container for a beverage.
By heating a liquid that often includes nicotine—the addictive substance found in traditional cigarettes, cigars, and other tobacco products—flavorings, and other compounds that contribute to the aerosol’s creation, e-cigarettes create an aerosol. This aerosol is breathed in by users. When the user exhales into the air, bystanders might also inhale this aerosol.

There are several names for e-cigarettes. E-cigs, e-hookahs, mods, vape pens, vapes, tank systems, and electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) are some of the other names for them. Some electronic cigarettes are designed to resemble traditional cigarettes, cigars, or pipes. Others resemble USB devices, pens, and other commonplace objects. Larger gadgets like tank systems, or “mods,” differ from regular tobacco products in appearance. Vaping is another term for using an e-cigarette. Cannabis and other narcotics can be delivered through e-cigarettes.

What’s in the aerosol of an e-cigarette?

Users of e-cigarettes can inhale and exhale aerosol that contains or may include toxic or potentially dangerous compounds, such as:

  • Nicotine
  • Ultra-fine particles that can penetrate the lungs deeply
  • Diacetyl, a flavouring compound associated with a significant lung condition
  • Vaporised organic substances
  • Substances that cause cancer

Consumers find it challenging to understand the ingredients in e-cigarette products. For instance, nicotine has been detected in several e-cigarettes that were advertised as having 0 percent nicotine.

Image source: CDC

Are e-cigarettes safer than conventional cigarettes?

However, this does not imply that e-cigarettes are secure. The lethal mixture of 7,000 poisonous compounds in cigarette smoke is typically less abundant in e-cigarette aerosol than it is. 3 Aerosol from e-cigarettes is not risk-free, though. Nicotine, heavy metals like lead, volatile chemical compounds, and agents that cause cancer are just a few of the hazardous and potentially dangerous things it may include.

Can e-cigarettes assist individuals in quitting smoking?

The FDA has not yet authorized e-cigarettes as a tool to help people give up smoking. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, a committee of medical professionals that sets recommendations for preventive health care, has determined that there is not enough data to support the use of e-cigarettes to help people, especially pregnant adults, quit smoking. However, if used as a full replacement for all cigarettes and other smoked tobacco products, e-cigarettes may benefit adult smokers who are not pregnant.

– The few research that have been done on the subject thus far vary. In comparison to placebo (non-nicotine) e-cigarettes, a Cochrane Review found evidence from two randomized controlled trials that e-cigarettes with nicotine can aid adults who smoke in quitting smoking over the long run.  The available study does have several drawbacks, though, such as the few trials, small sample sizes, and large margins of uncertainty surrounding the estimations.

 – According to a new CDC research [PDF – 197 KB], many individuals are using e-cigarettes to try to give up smoking. However, the majority of adult e-cigarette users continue to use both products, or “dual usage,” and do not give up smoking cigarettes. Using tobacco products in addition to normal cigarettes, such as smokeless tobacco, e-cigarettes, or other tobacco products, is not an effective approach to protect your health. The best thing you can do for your health is to entirely stop smoking because even a few smokes a day can be harmful.

What happens to your body after you quit vaping?

Vaping is more popular than ever, with more than three million individuals in the UK smoking e-cigarettes. However, with some individuals trying to make a change in the new year, there will be those looking for reason to stop in 2023. Nikola Djordjevic MD, project manager at Med Alert Help, spoke to The Healthy about the health advantages of quitting e-cigarettes, some of which are instant. After 20 minutes, ‘your heart rate returns to normal, your blood pressure decreases, and your circulation begins to normalize,’ according to the health expert.

Other changes occur over a slightly longer time frame, with the risk of heart disease decreasing after only 24 hours. According to a 2018 study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, e-cigarette smokers had roughly double the risk of a heart attack as non-smokers. “Your chance of having a heart attack starts to diminish after only one day,” Djordjevic continued. She went on to claim that ‘due to the lowering of blood pressure, boosting blood oxygen levels, and minimising the negative impact on cholesterol levels and the development of blood clots,’ she was able to do so. “Your lung capacity increases after one month,” Djordjevic remarked. “There is far less shortness of breath and coughing. 

“Your risk of suffering a heart attack begins to decrease after only one day,” Djordjevic concluded. She went on to say that ‘thanks to the lowering of blood pressure, raising blood oxygen levels, and reducing the negative influence on cholesterol levels and the formation of blood clots,’ she was able to do so. “After one month, your lung capacity rises,” Djordjevic observed. “There is far less shortness of breath and coughing.

It comes as two recent studies indicated that using vaping devices for an extended period of time might be just as hazardous for your heart as smoking regular cigarettes.