Burning tobacco produces more than 4,000 chemicals, including nicotine, carbon monoxide, and tars. These chemicals can transform\u00a0normal cells into cancer cells.\nFind out how:\n\nSmoking changes your lungs and airways.\nQuitting smoking can help reduce your risk of many health problems \u2014 from a\u00a0troublesome\u00a0cough to life-threatening\u00a0conditions, like COPD and cancer.\nSecondhand smoke has a harmful effect on your lungs.\n\nThe Effects of Cigarettes to Your Lungs and Airways\nSmoking causes significant changes in your lungs and airways. Some changes are sudden, lasting just a short time. Colds and pneumonia are examples of this.\u00a0Other, more chronic changes happen slowly and can last a lifetime\u00a0\u2014 like emphysema.\nHere are some of the changes that happen in your lungs and airways when you smoke.\nMore mucus and infections\nWhen you smoke, the cells that produce mucus in your lungs and airways grow in size and number. As a result, the amount of mucus increases and thickens.\nYour lungs cannot effectively clean out this excess mucus.\u00a0So, the mucus stays in your airways, clogs them, and makes you cough. This extra mucus is also prone to infection.\nSmoking causes your lungs to age faster and hinders their natural defense mechanisms from protecting you against infection.\nLess airflow\nSmoking inflames and irritates the lungs. Even one or two cigarettes cause irritation and coughing.\nSmoking also can destroy your lungs and lung tissue. This decreases the number of air spaces and blood vessels in the lungs, resulting in less oxygen to critical parts of your body.\nFewer cilia\nThe lungs are lined in broom-like hairs called cilia, which clean the lungs.\nA few seconds after you light a cigarette, cilia slow down in movement. Smoking just one cigarette can slow the action of your cilia for several hours. Smoking also reduces the number of cilia in your lungs, leaving fewer to properly clean the organ.\u00a0\nAdditional Health Risks Caused by Smoking\nCirculation\nCigarette smoking can be very damaging to your circulation system. Because the tar in cigarettes contain harmful chemicals, your blood stream is infected by them when you smoke. When these poisons enter your blood:\n\nYou are at an increased risk for experiencing blood clots, as your blood becomes thicker\nYour blood pressure and heart rate increase, causing your heart to work harder\nYour arteries become thinner, which reduces the amount of blood carrying oxygen as it circulates to your organs\n\nBrain\nSmoking cigarettes is also quite harmful to your brain. Smokers are 50% more likely to have a stroke, as opposed to non-smokers. With that, you are twice as likely to die from a stroke.\nStomach\nYour digestive system, particularly your stomach, is greatly impacted by smoking cigarettes. The esophagus can be weakened by smoking, allowing acid to travel in the wrong direction through it. This process is better known as reflux.\nSkin\nThough few people are aware, smoking reduces the amount of oxygen your skin receives. In other words, smoking causes your skin to age faster, by 10-20 years. Facial wrinkling is likely to occur around your eyes and mouth.\nHow Quitting Smoking Can Benefit Your Health\nWhen you smoke, you have a much greater chance of developing health problems. For help to quit smoking, call the UPMC Referral Service at 1-800-533-UPMC (8762).\nBreathing-related health problems from smoking\n\n\n\nWhen you smoke:\nWhen you quit:\n\n\n\n\nChronic cough\nMore mucus\nShortness of breath\nWheezing\n\n\n\n\nFast decrease in breathing-related symptoms, no matter how much or how long you smoked\nEasier breathing within 72 hours\nMarked decrease in cough, mucus, shortness of breath, and wheezing within one month\nLess irritated and inflamed airways\nCilia growth in one to nine months\nLungs more able to handle mucus, self-clean, and fight infection\n\n\n\n\n\nAsthma\nAsthma\u00a0is a chronic airway disease. People with asthma have periods of shortness of breath, wheezing, chest tightness, and cough.\n\n\n\nWhen you smoke:\nWhen you quit:\n\n\n\n\nAsthma symptoms are harder to control\nMany inhalers aren’t as effective\n\n\n\n\nSymptoms of asthma decrease\n\n\n\n\n\nColds and lung infections\n\n\n\nWhen you smoke:\nWhen you quit:\n\n\n\n\nMore colds and lung infections\nWorse colds and lung infections\n\n\n\n\nFewer colds and lung infections\nMilder colds and lung infections\n\n\n\n\n\nFlu and pneumonia\nSmoking increases the number of deaths from flu and pneumonia. As fewer people smoke, the death rate from flu and pneumonia\u00a0has also declined.\n\n\n\nWhen you smoke:\nWhen you quit:\n\n\n\n\nMore and worsened bouts of the flu\nMore chance of pneumonia\nPoor response to flu vaccine\n\n\n\n\n50 percent less risk of pneumonia within five years\nFewer and milder bouts of the flu\nBetter response to flu vaccine\n\n\n\n\n\nChronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)\nCigarette smoking is a major cause of chronic obstructive\u00a0pulmonary disease, or COPD.\u00a0COPD blocks the flow of air into and out of your lungs. It’s a leading cause of death in the United States.\nWhen you smoke, your risk of death from COPD is 10 times greater than if you did not smoke.\nCOPD includes two diseases: chronic bronchitis\u00a0and emphysema.\n\n\n\nWhen you have chronic bronchitis:\nWhen you quit smoking:\n\n\n\n\nYou develop a long-lasting cough every year\nYour cough produces excess\u00a0mucus that blocks airflow\n\n\n\n\nChronic bronchitis symptoms decrease\nSymptoms of chronic bronchitis may disappear over time\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nWhen you have emphysema:\nWhen you quit smoking:\n\n\n\n\nIt destroys your lung tissue over time\nYour lungs are less able to take in fresh air and let out stale air\nYour lungs and airways produce excess mucus that blocks airflow\n\n\n\n\nYou get a small improvement from emphysema symptoms right away\nThe disease slows down\nYou have a better chance of living longer\n\n\n\n\n\nLung cancer\nLung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States. Smoking causes 85 percent of lung cancer cases.\nSmokers have a higher number of pre-cancer changes in their airways than non-smokers.\n\n\n\nWhen you smoke:\nWhen you quit:\n\n\n\n\nPre-cancer tissue can change to cancer\nYour risk of lung cancer and death are 20 times greater than\u00a0that of a non-smoker\nThis risk increases the more you smoke and the longer you smoke\n\n\n\n\nPre-cancer tissue may return to normal\nYour risk of lung cancer decreases within five years\nYour risk of lung cancer keeps decreasing over time\n\n\n\n\n\nHow Secondhand Smoke Affects Your Lungs\nWhen people smoke, they pollute the air around them. This secondhand smoke comes from two sources:\n\nThe burning end of the cigarette\nThe smoker when he or she exhales smoke\n\nResearchers have studied adult non-smokers who breathe cigarette smoke in the workplace, and results show these adults have impaired lungs.\nWhen you breathe second-hand smoke, you can have health problems such as:\n\nWheezing\nChronic cough\nIncreased mucus\nShortness of breath\nTrouble controlling asthma\nMore lung infections and pneumonia\nLung cancer\n\nIn the United States each year, about 3,000 people die from lung cancer caused by secondhand smoke.\nStay away from secondhand smoke.\nGet Help to Quit Smoking\nUPMC offers smoking cessation\u00a0programs to help people quit smoking.\nTo get help or learn more about our programs to quit smoking, call the UPMC Referral Service at 1-800-533-UPMC (8762).