Top 6 Effects of Smoking

We’ve heard for years how smoking cigarettes can harm our lungs. But what you might not know is that smoking affects the whole body, from your skin and hair to your eyes, ears, teeth and bones—and every organ system inside.

Reproductive health

For those of us in our reproductive years (and beyond), smoking can lead to a number of problems for both men and women:

  • Women who smoke have a harder time getting pregnant, and they tend to enter menopause early.
  • Men who smoke have a lower sperm count, and the sperm they do have carry flaws that increase the risk of birth defects and miscarriage. These men are also more likely to have erectile dysfunction.

Teeth and bones

Smoking weakens bones, increasing the risk of broken bones now, and osteoporosis later in life. Smokers also have higher rates of gum disease and tooth loss.

Eyes and ears

Cigarette smoking has been shown to cause vision loss due to cataracts and age-related macular degeneration, as well as damage to the inner ear that leads to hearing loss.


The longer a person smokes, the greater the damage to their appearance, including:

  • Skin wrinkles
  • Yellow fingers and fingernails
  • Stinky hair
  • Stained teeth
  • Gray hair
  • Hair loss
  • Cellulite
  • Gray/yellow skin
  • A bigger belly 
  • Fungal nail infections

Muscles and joints

Smoking can make you feel bad all over, due to its effects on muscles and joints throughout the body, like: 

  • Muscle deterioration, which leads to weakness, fatigue, aches and pains
  • Increased risk of rheumatoid arthritis
  • Longer, slower healing process for wounds and injuries 

Risk of disease

Beyond the increased risk of lung disease, smoking can increase your risk for a number of other diseases and health conditions, such as:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Inflammation 
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Decreased immune function
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Lower good cholesterol (HDL) and higher bad cholesterol (LDL)
  • Increased blood clotting, which can cause heart attack, stroke or pulmonary embolism (blood clot in the lung)
  • Dozens of cancers all over the body

If you need help quitting smoking, talk to your health care provider about programs and medications that might help.