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Smoking is the second leading cause of cardiovascular disease and cerebrovascular disease, after high blood pressure. Therefore, to quit smoking is one of the best things you can do for your heart and health. It’s never too late to quit smoking because quitting almost immediately provides benefits and if you persevere, over time your risk of heart disease and stroke can fall almost identical to that of a non-smoker. The Heart and Stroke Foundation SA encourages all South Africans to avoid smoking or the use of other tobacco products and to protect yourself and your family from exposure to second-hand smoke, or passive smoking. Both smoking and passive smoking pose very real dangers to your health as well as those around you!


  • Tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of death globally and is currently responsible for killing 1 in 10 adults worldwide, or 1 person every 6 seconds.

  • Smoking kills more than half of all people before the age of 60 if they smoke through their adult life.

  • On average, smokers die 13 to 14 years earlier than non-smokers.

  • The risk for heart disease is 25% higher in female smokers than in male smokers.

  • The risk of a non-fatal heart attack increases by 5.6% for every cigarette smoked and persists even at only one to two cigarettes per day.

Cigarettes contain more than 4000 dangerous chemicals, including nicotine which is an extremely addictive substance with numerous harmful effects and is present in all tobacco products.

  • Smoking almost triples the risk of heart disease and more than doubles the risk of having a stroke.

  • It narrows blood vessels, leading to raised blood pressure and expands blood clots, causing the cardiovascular equivalent of a traffic jam on the highway to your heart and brain. Reduce blood flow to the heart and you risk having a heart attack. Reduce it to the brain and you risk having a stroke.

  • Smoking can lead to numerous forms of cancer, in addition to many other negative health effects such as impotence, fertility problems, oral health problems, increased risk for other infections such as TB or pneumonia and chronic lung disease.

  • Non-smokers who breathe second-hand smoke suffer many of the diseases of active smoking. Second-hand smoke causes a wide variety of health problems in children including bronchitis and pneumonia, exacerbation of asthma, middle ear infections, and glue ear, the most common cause of deafness in children.

  • Babies born to mothers who smoke, or who are exposed to second-hand smoke while pregnant are more likely to be underweight, premature or stillborn. There is also an association with the risk of miscarriage and may even harm the intellectual and behavioural development of the child. In addition, the child has a greater risk of sudden infant death syndrome, breathing problems and developing lung disease or diabetes later in his or her life.

This article originally appeared at the Heart and Stroke Foundation website


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