Smoking and chronic pain

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teen girl with cigarette

​​​Cigarettes have a number of ingredients: tar, carbon monoxide, ammonia, hydrogen cyanide, arsenic and, of course, nicotine.

When you breathe in cigarette smoke, it passes from your lungs into your bloodstream. Once in the bloodstream, it causes the body to release a hormone called epinephrine, which leads to higher blood pressure, faster breathing and an increased heart rate.

When nicotine reaches the brain, it causes the release of much higher than usual levels of a feel-good chemical called dopamine. The release of this hormone is what causes someone to feel happy and relaxed when they smoke, and what makes cigarettes so addictive, even if someone knows how harmful they are.

Some people use e-cigarettes because they believe they are a safe alternative to smoking. However, they are not. E-cigarettes are another way of putting nicotine (a highly addictive drug) into your body.

Why people smoke

There are many different reasons why people start smoking. Some people might want to fit in with their peers or think that smoking helps them manage stress or their weight. But just like recreational drugs, cigarettes don't solve problems. In fact, they may actually make things worse with regular use.

Dangers of cigarettes

  • Cigarette smoke contains over 4,000 chemicals, at least 70 of which are known to cause, trigger or promote cancer.
  • Cigarette smoking also causes emphysema (a serious lung condition) and heart disease.
  • If you are a regular smoker, an accident is more likely to lead to an injury and you are more likely to take longer to recover from it. This is because smoking can affect your body’s ability to produce collagen, the protein that connects your bones, tendons, cartilage and muscles. If you damage your tendons and ligaments as a smoker, they will take longer to heal.
  • Because cigarette smoke goes straight to the lungs, smokers tend to have more respiratory infections, such as colds, flu, bronchitis and pneumonia, than non-smokers.
  • Young people who try to manage their weight by smoking instead of eating balanced meals tend to lack the nutrients their growing bodies need to develop properly and fight off illness.
  • Female smokers are at much higher risk for blood clots, strokes and heart attacks if they take hormone-based birth control such as the pill, patch or ring.
  • A pack of cigarettes typically costs $10 to $15. If you start smoking, it won’t take long for it to make a big dent in your wallet.
  • Cigarette smoking gives you bad breath and makes your hair and clothes smell. Over time, it also causes you to develop premature wrinkles and turns your teeth yellow.
Last updated: May 2nd 2016