It is said that the Transport and Logistics Industry (especially among its drivers) has one of the highest proportions of smokers compared to other industry sectors.

Medical research has determined that tobacco smoking causes lung cancer, emphysema, and cardiovascular disease among other health problems. The World Health Organisation reported that tobacco smoking killed 100 million people worldwide in the 20th century and warned that it could kill one billion people around the world in the 21st century.


Tobacco smoking is the inhalation of smoke from burned dried or cured leaves of the tobacco plant, most often in the form of a cigarette. People may smoke casually for pleasure, habitually to satisfy an addiction to the nicotine present in tobacco and to the act of smoking, or in response to social pressure. In some societies, people smoke for ritualistic purposes. According to the WHO (World Health Organisation), about one-third of the world's male population smokes tobacco.

Tobacco use by Native Americans throughout North and South America dates back to 2000 BC. The practice was brought back to Europe by the crew of Christopher Columbus. It took hold in Spain and was then introduced to the rest of the world by trade. Tobacco is an agricultural product processed from the fresh leaves of plants in the genus Nicotiana. It has been growing on the northern continents since about 6000 BC and began being used by native cultures circa 3000 BC, and has been smoked in one form or another since circa 2000 BC. There are pictorial drawings of ancient Mayans smoking crude cigars from 1400 BC.

Medical Conditions

Tobacco smoke contains nicotine and harmane (an MAO inhibitor), which combined give rise to addictive stimulant and euphoriant properties. The effect of nicotine in the first time or irregular users is an increase in alertness and memory and mild euphoria. Nicotine also disturbs metabolism and suppresses appetite. This is because nicotine, like many stimulants, temporarily increases blood sugar levels.

Cigarette smoking has been identified as the most important source of preventable morbidity and premature mortality worldwide. Smoking is a major factor in coronary heart disease and stroke and may be causally related to malignancies in other parts of the body. It has been linked to a variety of other conditions and disorders, including slowed healing of wounds, infertility, and peptic ulcer disease.

Generally accepted conditions caused by smoking are:

  • Cancer of the nose, mouth, kidney, bladder, larynx, throat, stomach, oesophagus and pancreas
  • Increased coughing and sneezing, shortness of breath
  • Leukaemia
  • Chronic bronchitis and emphysema
  • Affected fertility
  • Gangrene
  • Stroke and coronary heart disease
  • Defective vision
  • Aortic aneurysm
  • Peptic ulcer
  • Peripheral vascular disease
  • Gum recession and other dental problems

Men and smoking Impotence is one of the less well-known effects of smoking, however, an estimated 120,000 men in their 30s and 40s are impotent as a direct result of smoking.

Women and smoking Lung cancer used to be rare among women, but it has now overtaken breast cancer as the leading cause of cancer deaths in women. Currently, 28% of men smoke compared with 26% of women, but rates are much higher among women aged between 16 and 24. Children who grow up with parents who smoke are much more likely to start themselves.

Women who smoke also increase their risk of:

  • Miscarriage and other problems during pregnancy
  • Low birth weight and premature babies
  • Stillbirth, and death of the baby in the first month of life
  • Early menopause
  • Heart attack and stroke, especially if they also use the combined contraceptive pill
  • Osteoporosis (brittle bone disease). Women who smoke 20 cigarettes a day through adulthood will probably have reduced their bone density by 5-10% more than non-smokers by the time they reach menopause

Smoking Facts

Once lit, a cigarette reaches a temperature of nearly 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. This high heat helps release thousands of chemical compounds, including poisons like carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide, at least 43 carcinogens, and numerous mutagens. All of these are drawn into the body when a smoker inhales - that's the reality of smoking:

  • Each cigarette on average takes 11 minutes off your life
  • Fifty diseases are caused by smoking causes. Twenty of them are fatal
  • Seven out of ten smokers say that they want to give up
  • Nicotine stimulates the central nervous system, which increases the heart rate and blood pressure
  • If you carry on smoking you have a one in two chance of dying from it
  • Smoking is the number one avoidable cause of premature death in the UK
  • Smoking-related diseases cost the UK National Health Service about £1.7 billion a year
  • If you want facial wrinkles at an early age just carry on smoking
  • £1,600 that's how much you could save if you gave up your twenty a day habit
  • Nicotine is an insecticide
  • £800 is what the average smoker give to the UK government in tax each year
  • The risk of smoking pipes can be as great as smoking cigarettes
  • Cigarettes contain tar, a complex mixture of chemicals, many of which are known to cause cancer
  • As each year passes, your addiction will become greater and will increase the difficulty of quitting - the benefits start as soon as you stop.
  • Any children growing up in a house where tobacco is regularly used are more likely to get asthma, pneumonia, ear infections, bronchitis and become tobacco users themselves.
  • Stomach ulcers are made worse by smoking
  • In the UK, about Three Hundred people are killed every day, simply because they were smokers
  • You can always benefit from quitting smoking. Even if you are over 70 years of age
  • Cigarette smoking increases the risk of having a heart attack by two or three times
  • Every year 17,000 children under the age of five are admitted to hospital due to the effects of passive smoking
  • Smoking causes at least 80% of all deaths from lung cancer
  • Less than 10% of lung cancer patients survive five years
  • 83% of smokers say they would not smoke if they had their life again
  • Teenage smokers experience more asthma and respiratory symptoms than non-smokers

Attitudes towards smoking have changed dramatically in the last few decades, but there is still much to be learned about the effects that smoking has in different ways. Smoke intake and exposure to tar and carcinogens all contribute to health problems, which in turn can be compounded over time.

Cigarette smoke contains over 4,800 chemicals, 69 of which are known to cause cancer. Smoking is directly responsible for approximately 90 per cent of lung cancer deaths and approximately 80-90 per cent of COPD (emphysema and chronic bronchitis) deaths. A small sample of the many chemicals that can be found in tobacco smoke are:

  • Benzene - A poisonous gas found in petrol fumes. Known to cause leukaemia
  • Butane - Lighter fuel
  • Ethanol - Used in anti-freeze
  • Methanol - Used in rocket fuel
  • Ammonia - Used in many cleaning products
  • Acetone - Used in paint stripper
  • Cadmium - Used in car batteries - known to cause cancer
  • Arsenic - Poison
  • Toluene - Industrial solvent

We have used many sources to produce the information detailed above. Please use the links below to read more and also (for those who wish to do so) find information on how to Quit.

Quit Smoking Now - Quit.Org.UK

Stop Smoking - NHS