Skip to content

Smoking Cessation Health Center

Font Size

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 skin.

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."

Today on WebMD

hands breaking a cigarette
Is quitting cold turkey an effective method?
14 tips to get you through the first hard days.
smoking man
Surprising impacts of tobacco on the body.
cigarette smoke
What happens when you kick the habit?

Filtered cigarettes
an array of e cigarettes
human heart
Woman experiencing withdrawal symptoms

man smoking cigarette
no smoking sign
Woman ashing cigarette in ashtray
chain watch