Smoking: what are the effects?
Effects of tobacco smoke
Tar in cigarettes coats the lungs and can cause lung and throat cancer in smokers. It is also responsible for the yellow–brown staining on smokers' fingers and teeth.
Carbon monoxide in cigarettes robs the muscles, brain and blood of oxygen, making the whole body — especially the heart — work harder. Over time this causes airways to narrow and blood pressure to rise, and can lead to heart attack and stroke. High levels of CO, together with nicotine, increase the risk of heart disease, hardening of the arteries and other circulatory problems. A first-time smoker will often feel dizzy and sick.
‘Light’ or ‘low tar’ cigarettes
Research has shown that there is little difference between the amount of chemicals inhaled by people who smoke ‘light’ or ‘low tar’ cigarettes and those who smoke regular cigarettes. People who smoke ‘light’ cigarettes have the same risk of developing smoking-related diseases as people who smoke regular cigarettes.
Soon after smoking tobacco, the following effects may be experienced:
initial stimulation, then reduction in brain and nervous system activity;
enhanced alertness and concentration;
feelings of relaxation;
increased blood pressure and heart rate;
decreased blood flow to body extremities like the fingers and toes;
dizziness, nausea, watery eyes and acid in the stomach; and
decreased appetite, taste and smell.
Although rare, it is possible to overdose on the nicotine in tobacco.
Very large doses of nicotine can result in an increase in the unpleasant effects, including feelings of faintness and confusion, and a rapid decrease in blood pressure and breathing rate.
In some cases, it can lead to convulsions and death from respiratory failure. 60 milligrams of nicotine taken orally can be fatal for an adult.