Is Smoking Dragging You Down?
10 reasons to quit smoking beyond the big health threats.
3. Premature aging
"One of the chief and significant causes of premature aging of the face is
smoking," Fiore says. Skin changes, like leathery skin and deep wrinkling,
are more likely in people who are regular smokers. According to the
American Academy of Dermatology, smoking leads to biochemical changes in the
body that speed the aging process. For example, smoking deprives the living
skin tissue of oxygen by causing constriction of the blood vessels. As a
result, blood doesn't get to your organs as easily, and that includes the
Another classic smoker giveaway is tar staining of the hands and skin from
holding cigarettes. "Burning cigarette smoke is most apparent around the face
and I think that what we sometimes see is staining of the skin from the tars
and other deadly toxins in tobacco smoke," Fiore says.
Fiore also points out that the muscle actions required to inhale lead to the
classic smoker's wrinkles around the mouth.
4. Social pressures
Schroeder cites a study published in The New England Journal of
Medicine in 2008, which looked at the dynamics of smoking in large social
networks as a part of the Framingham Heart Study. The study, which took place
during the period between 1971 and 2003, examined smoking behavior and the
extent to which groups of widely connected people have an affect on quitting.
One of the findings was that smokers have increasingly moved to the fringes of
social networks. "Smokers have become marginalized," Schroeder says.
Joyce Wilde, a small business owner and former smoker in Pittsburgh,
remembers feeling marginalized when she smoked heavily. "Smoking really messed
with my self-concept," Wilde tells WebMD. "I usually hid somewhere and
smoked so no one would see me. The experience of smoking embarrassed me
and I felt weakened by it, both physically and emotionally."
The reasons for the increasing unpopularity of smoking and diminished social
standing of those who continue to light up likely has roots in our increased
understanding of the health implications of smoking, not just for the smoker,
but for those breathing in secondhand smoke as well.
"The reason for [clean indoor air] ordinances is to protect the healthy
nonsmoker from the known danger of toxins of secondhand smoke," Fiore says.
"It's not just the inconvenience of it makes my clothes smell bad when I go to
get a drink, it's that risk from the carcinogens and side stream smoke, some of
which are at higher concentrations than direct smoke."