Understanding the Harmful Effects of Cigarettes on Our Bodies and the Benefits of Quitting

This video discusses the harmful effects of smoking on the body and the physical benefits of quitting. Inhalation of cigarette smoke introduces over 5,000 chemical substances into the body, causing damage to the teeth, gums, nerves in the nose, airways, and lungs. Smoke disrupts the oxygen-carbon dioxide exchange, leading to oxygen deprivation and shortness of breath. Nicotine in cigarettes triggers the release of dopamine and other neurotransmitters, causing addiction. Smoking constricts blood vessels, increases blood platelet stickiness, and disrupts DNA repair, increasing the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and various cancers. Quitting smoking leads to immediate improvements in heart rate, blood pressure, carbon monoxide levels, and over time, lung health, smell, taste, and overall cardiovascular health. The video also highlights various tools and therapies that can help individuals quit smoking and regain their health.

Author Icon

Our Summaries are written by our own AI Infrastructure, to save you time on your Health Journey!

How does this happen?

Key Insights:

  • There are over 5,000 chemical substances in cigarettes that harm the body.
  • Smoking damages tooth enamel, nerve-endings in the nose, and the airways and lungs.
  • Carbon monoxide from smoke deprives the body of oxygen, leading to shortness of breath.
  • Nicotine triggers the release of pleasurable sensations in the brain, making smoking addictive.
  • Smoking constricts blood vessels, increases blood platelet stickiness, and can lead to heart attacks and strokes.
  • Cigarettes contain chemicals that can cause mutations in DNA and increase the risk of cancer.
  • Quit smoking has immediate benefits such as normalizing heart rate and blood pressure.
  • After quitting, the risk of heart attack, lung and other cancers, and other health issues decrease over time.
  • Quitting smoking can be challenging and may lead to temporary anxiety and depression, but various tools and therapies can help.


Cigarettes are not good for us, and we have known about their dangers for a long time. But how exactly do cigarettes harm our bodies? Let’s take a look at what happens as the ingredients in cigarettes enter our bodies, and the physical benefits we experience when we quit smoking.

When we inhale cigarette smoke, over 5,000 chemical substances come into contact with our body’s tissues. Upon inhalation, tar, a black, resinous material, starts to coat our teeth and gums, causing damage to tooth enamel and eventually leading to decay. As time goes on, smoke damages the nerve endings in our nose, resulting in a loss of smell.

Inside our airways and lungs, smoking increases the risk of infections and chronic diseases like bronchitis and emphysema. This is because the smoke damages the cilia, which are tiny hairlike structures responsible for keeping the airways clean. Smoke also fills the alveoli, which are tiny air sacs that facilitate the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide between the lungs and blood. Carbon monoxide, a toxic gas, crosses the membrane into the blood, binding to hemoglobin and replacing the oxygen that should be carried around the body. This is one of the reasons why smoking can lead to oxygen deprivation and shortness of breath.

Within just 10 seconds, nicotine, a stimulant, reaches the brain through the bloodstream, triggering the release of dopamine and other neurotransmitters that create pleasurable sensations. This is what makes smoking highly addictive. Nicotine and other chemicals simultaneously constrict blood vessels and damage their delicate lining, reducing blood flow. These vascular effects cause thickening of blood vessel walls and increase the stickiness of blood platelets, making it more likely for clots to form and trigger heart attacks and strokes.

Many of the chemicals in cigarettes can cause dangerous mutations in the body’s DNA, leading to the formation of cancers. Ingredients like arsenic and nickel can disrupt the process of DNA repair, compromising the body’s ability to fight against cancer. In fact, smoking is responsible for about one-third of all cancer deaths in the United States. It’s not just lung cancer, either. Smoking can cause cancer in various tissues and organs, as well as affect eyesight and weaken bones. It also makes it more difficult for women to get pregnant and can cause erectile dysfunction in men.

However, there is a significant positive aspect for those who quit smoking. Just 20 minutes after smoking their last cigarette, a smoker’s heart rate and blood pressure begin to return to normal. After 12 hours, carbon monoxide levels stabilize, increasing the blood’s capacity to carry oxygen. Within a day, the risk of a heart attack starts to decrease as blood pressure and heart rates normalize. After two days, the nerve endings responsible for smell and taste begin to recover.

As time goes on, the lungs become healthier, resulting in less coughing and shortness of breath after about a month. The hair-like cilia in the airways and lungs start to recover within weeks and are completely restored after 9 months, improving resistance to infections.

By the one-year mark of quitting smoking, the risk of heart disease is halved as blood vessel function improves. After five years, the likelihood of blood clots forming dramatically decreases, and the risk of stroke continues to reduce. After ten years, the chances of developing fatal lung cancer decrease by 50% as the body’s ability to repair DNA is restored. Finally, after fifteen years, the likelihood of developing coronary heart disease is essentially the same as that of a non-smoker.

Quitting smoking is not an easy task, and it can lead to temporary anxiety and depression due to nicotine withdrawal. However, quitting is becoming easier with the help of various tools. Nicotine replacement therapy, such as gum, skin patches, lozenges, and sprays, can help smokers gradually wean off cigarettes. These therapies stimulate nicotine receptors in the brain, preventing withdrawal symptoms without the introduction of other harmful chemicals. Counseling, support groups, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and moderate intensity exercise are also beneficial in helping smokers stay cigarette-free.

It’s good news that quitting smoking puts both you and your body on the path to better health.