Problems from Tobacco 443
Health problems from smoking
People who smoke become addicted to a drug in tobacco
called nicotine. Without a cigarette, they may feel sick or
nervous. It is very hard to stop smoking, because nicotine is a
very addictive drug.
Since more men than women used to smoke, smoking has
mainly been seen as a men’s health problem. But smoking is a
growing cause of poor health among women. It is also a growing
cause of health problems in poor countries. One reason for this
is that smoking helps people cope with stress. Another is that
tobacco companies are trying harder to sell cigarettes in these
countries, as more people in rich countries stop smoking.
In both men and women, smoking can cause:
• serious diseases of the lungs, including chronic bronchitis
• severe colds and coughs.
• cancer of the lung, mouth, throat and neck, and bladder.
• heart attack, stroke, and high blood pressure.
Some of these problems can cause death. In fact,
one out of 4 people who smoke will die
from a health problem
connected to smoking.
Children whose parents
smoke have more lung
infections and other
lung and breathing
health problems than
children whose parents
do not smoke.
Smoking is worse for women
In addition to the problems above, women who smoke have a
greater risk of:
• difficulty getting pregnant (infertility).
• miscarriage, and babies born too small or too soon.
• problems when using birth control pills.
• monthly bleeding that ends earlier in life (menopause).
• weaker bones that break more easily during mid-life and old
• cancer of the cervix and womb.
A woman who is pregnant should try to avoid people who
are smoking, so that the smoke will not harm her baby.
➤ Smoking can
cause disease in
those around you
who do not smoke.
Where Women Have No Doctor 2012