Short-term health effects of smoking tobacco

Updated November 21, 2016

Smoking tobacco has deadly consequences in the long-term as it can lead to cancer, heart diseases and other serious illnesses. But smoking can also have significant short-term effects and risks as well. These include both physiological effects, particularly relating to the respiratory and cardiovascular systems, and effects on a smoker's outward appearance.

Respiratory System

In the short term, smoking tobacco has an adverse effect on a person's respiratory system. Smoking decreases lung capacity and can lead to shortness of breath. It also can cause or aggravate a number of other conditions, including coughing, sinus congestion, bronchitis and asthma.

Cardiovascular System

Smoking tobacco can affect the cardiovascular system negatively. This can lead to certain dangers, even in the short term. Smoking causes a decrease in flow of blood and oxygen to the heart, as well as thickening of the blood. It also causes a rise in the smoker's blood pressure and heart rate. These factors raise the risk of experiencing a heart attack or stroke, both in the short and long term.

Other Physiological Effects

Smoking tobacco can have a variety of other physiological effects. It may cause the smoker to feel fatigued. It also changes cholesterol levels. It decreases the levels of high-density lipoprotein, or so-called good cholesterol, while increasing levels of low-density lipoprotein, or so-called bad cholesterol. Smoking also diminishes the sense of taste and smell. It also causes a decrease in body temperature, especially in the hands and feet


Smoking tobacco can negatively affect a smoker's outward appearance. The smell of the smoke can cause one's breath, clothes and hair to gain a foul smell. Tobacco can also stain a smoker's teeth and nails. It also affects the skin, making it look wrinkled and aged.

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