The Dangers of Smoking


We all know that smoking is harmful for our health, yet so many people still find themselves starting a habit that is really hard to break.

Stats show that although SA’s population is smoking less, 20% of our country’s adult population is still smoking. 20% doesn’t sound like a lot necessarily, but when you think that 20% of 59 million people is still 12 million people, we have to realize that it is still a very big problem.

It is interesting that some people are more genetically prone to becoming addicted to tobacco, which means that once they start, the addiction becomes so great that giving up is almost impossible.  

Tobacco products are dangerous for our health regardless of how they are taken in. Tobacco products contain acetone, tar, nicotine, and carbon dioxide.

Apart from the obvious mouth, tongue, throat, esophagus, and lung cancers that are prevalent among smokers, bladder cancer and emphysema are also common diseases linked to smoking.

Smoking can also disrupt other body systems and can impact the following areas:

  • Mood
  • Cognitive function
  • Vision
  • Hormonal balance – fertility and early menopause
  • Immune function


Nicotine, which is a stimulant, and mood-altering drug that arrives in the brain very quickly after being inhaled, gives a person a temporary boost of energy. The effect is short-lived so fatigue sets in quickly and the body will crave more to try and regain the same level of energy.

Although it appears to give a smoker a sense of calm, nicotine overstimulates the nervous system so it can worsen symptoms in people with anxiety. Nicotine withdrawal impairs cognitive function and can make a person feel irritable, anxious, jittery, and depressed. It can also lead to headaches and sleep disturbances.

Tobacco products negatively affect the development of neural structures and the transmission of nerve impulses which can result in neurodegenerative diseases.

Cognitive Function

Research shows that smokers experience faster cognitive decline in areas of global cognition and executive function than their non-smoking counterparts. Smoking is a definitive risk factor for dementia in the elderly.


Smokers have a higher risk for eye diseases such as glaucoma, macular degeneration, and cataracts.

Hormonal Balance

Female smokers can enter menopause earlier than non-smokers and smoking can also increase the intensity of hot flushes.

The fertility of men and women can be affected by smoking and there are higher incidences of infertility among smokers.

Immune Function

Smoking lowers the immune system’s ability to fight off infection and many smokers are more prone to upper respiratory infections than non-smokers.

Smoking disrupts the immune balance and increases the risk for autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, which causes swelling, deformity, and pain in the joints.

An illustrated diagram depicting the major organ systems affected by smoking. Numerous health risks have been causally linked to smoking, including cancer in the respiratory, digestive, urinary, reproductive, and skeletal systems, as well as the development of coronary heart disease, atherosclerosis, diabetes, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Don’t be fooled by thinking that vaping is a better option. Most vape fluids still contain nicotine, not to mention flavorants and colorants, so the above risk factors apply as well. 

Listen to my interview with Brad Kirsten from Radio Cape Pulpit on 21 July 2022 to learn more. Listen to my next interview on Thursday at 7.45am