Smoking and vaping

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Both smoking and vaping can be damaging to your health, especially if you have had cancer. Learn about how smoking and vaping affect your lungs and other health problems.

Key points

  • Smoking and vaping can damage your lungs and make it harder to breathe normally.
  • Smoking can increase your risk of cancer, other lung problems and lower the amount of calcium and vitamin D that you absorb.
  • Even if you don't inhale when you smoke, you are still increasing your risk of cancer.

Why smoking is bad for your health

  • Smoking and vaping can wreck your lungs. Your lungs have a system to keep them clean and prevent infection. Breathing in smoke and harmful chemicals damages the system, so any germs, dirt, and bad chemicals that get into your lungs stay there. This makes you more likely to get lung diseases and infection.
  • Smoking also makes it harder for your lungs to take in oxygen and get rid of carbon dioxide.
  • Over time, smoking causes cancer. You’ve been through it. Don’t raise your risk of going through it again.
  • Your treatment may have already put you at greater risk for lung problems. Smoking and being exposed to smoke can make this risk much higher.
  • Some cancer treatments can cause your bones to thin. Smoking lowers the amount of calcium and vitamin D that you absorb, meaning that your bones may take even longer to become strong again.

Most people who use tobacco start using it before they finish high school. The best way not to smoke is not to start!

Also, try not to be around second-hand smoke. This means smoke from someone else’s burning cigarette and the smoke they breathe out.

True or false? If you don’t inhale when you smoke, you won’t get cancer.

Answer: False!

Smoking is a major risk factor for lung cancer, but it also increases the risk of mouth cancer, pharyngeal (say: fa-rin-JEE-al) cancer (cancer of the throat) and cancer of the larynx, as smoke passes over these areas when it is breathed in.

Smoking also increases the risk of cancer of the esophagus and stomach cancer. The amount you smoke, the age you started, and the longer you keep on smoking are all factors in your risk for getting cancer.

Last updated: September 3rd 2019