Overview of Health Risks of Smoking
More than 37,000 people will die prematurely this year in Canada due to tobacco use. Unless they quit, up to half of all smokers will die from their smoking, most of them before their 70th birthday and only after years of suffering a reduced quality of life.
The average smoker will die about eight years earlier than a similar non-smoker. There is strong scientific evidence that smoking is related to more than two dozen diseases and conditions. Fortunately, most of these start to reverse after a smoker quits smoking.
All smokers are at extra risk for
- Coronary heart disease (e.g., heart attacks)
- Peripheral vascular disease (circulatory problems)
- Aortic aneurysm
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol (LDL)
- Lung cancer
- Cancer of the mouth, throat and voice box
- Cancer of the pancreas
- Cancer of the kidney, and urinary bladder
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Chronic bronchitis
- Influenza (the "flu")
- The common cold
- Peptic ulcers
- Chronic bowel disease (Crohn's Disease)
- Tooth decay (cavities)
- Gum disease
- Sleep problems (falling asleep inappropriately and/or frequent waking)
- Thyroid disease (Grave's Disease)
There is some scientific evidence that smoking may also be related to cancer of the large intestine and leukemia. In addition to various diseases, smoking also causes the skin to wrinkle and create the appearance of premature aging. Smoking also reduces the sense of smell and taste.
Female smokers are at an extra risk for
- Cancer of the cervix (womb)
- Menstrual problems
- Fertility problems
- Spontaneous abortion (miscarriage)
Male smokers have an extra risk of
- Erectile dysfunction (impotence)
- Fertility problems (problems with sperm)
Need more information?
For more information, please visit Health Canada's Tobacco Control Website.