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Health harms

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Smoking causes many different illnesses that lead to poor quality of life and early death. In fact, smoking is one of the leading preventable causes of illness and death in Australia. Among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island peoples, smoking causes almost 40% of all deaths, and 50% of deaths of people 45 years and over.

Smoking causes:

  • 16 types of cancer: including lung, stomach, bladder, pancreatic and more. See 16 Cancers fact sheet for more.
  • type 2 diabetes: smoking can bring on diabetes-related complications such as vision loss, kidney problems, and problems with your feet, more quickly. If you smoke and have diabetes, you’re also at greater risk of heart disease and stroke.
  • heart disease: people who smoke are 2 to 3 times more likely to die from a heart attack.
  • lung disease: smoking damages the tiny air sacs in your lungs, leading to diseases like emphysema. Emphysema is a long-term lung condition that causes shortness of breath. It worsens over time, and it can’t be cured. People who smoke are also more likely to get chronic bronchitis.
  • stroke: 30% of all strokes in people under 65 years are caused by smokes.
  • dental diseases: smoking causes diseases that damage the gums and bones that support your teeth.

The good news is quitting the smokes reduces your risk of these diseases. The sooner you quit, the lower your risk!

Chemicals in cigarettes:

Cigarette smoke is a complex mixture of more than 7000 chemicals. Many of these chemicals come from burning tobacco, some come from burning cigarette paper, others from chemicals left on the tobacco leaves during farming and some are added during the cigarette making process.

Once breathed in, many of these chemicals pass through the lung walls into the blood stream and are pumped around your body.

Uncle Brian's story

“I lost 3 of my brothers to lung cancer. It’s inspired me to help anyone I can by telling my quit story.”

Uncle Brian, WindaMara

Watch story

Vaping also exposes you to harmful chemicals

Many vapes contain poisonous chemicals such as those in biofuel, paint thinner and bug killer. More than 200 chemicals have been found in vapes. 42 chemicals can cause damage to the lungs and airways. Many others can cause cancer or heart disease.

Vaping can be especially harmful to young mob. Over recent years, vaping amongst young people has increased. Learn more about young mob, vaping and smoking here.

Please note,this information is for general use only.  Please consult your health professional for further advice.

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Last updated February 2024

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