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Cigarettes and tobacco

What’s in a cigarette?

CigarettesCigarettes are a small roll of porous paper containing a rod of chopped up tobacco leaf. Cigarettes are designed so that the tobacco can be smoked, by lighting the cigarette and breathing in the smoke. Cigarettes also contain additives such as chemical compounds, sugars and flavourings which are used to increase shelf life, control the rate at which the cigarette burns and control the delivery of the chemicals.

For more information, see What’s in a Cigarette?.

Video: E-cigarettes

electronic cigarettesE-cigarettes were developed as aids to help people quit smoking and there is evidence they effectively help smokers quit. However they are also concerns that people who have never smoked are taking up e-cigarettes. Dr Joe discusses the current state of evidence for and against e-cigarettes in this video.

For more information, see E-cigarettes.

All about tobacco

TobaccoTobacco contains an addictive chemical called nicotine that when ingested gives the consumer a rush of adrenaline. Tobacco is most commonly ingested by inhaling the smoke from burning it using a cigarette, cigar or tobacco pipes. It is associated with many, severe adverse health effects.

For more information, see Tobacco.

Smoking statistics

StatisticsHow many people die from smoking every year? Who smokes, and how often do they smoke? How many people try to quit, and how many are successful? What is the economic impact of smoking? Smoking statistics for Australia and the world, including disease burden, smoking prevalence, education, economic impact and quit statistics.

For more information, see Smoking Statistics.

Effects of smoking

Tool: Cost of smoking

Smoking toolHow much of your savings has been spent on cigarettes since you started smoking? It’s an expensive habit; find out how much it’s costing you. Use the Smoking Cost Calculator.

Eye health

SmokingThere is an increased risk of a number of eye disorders, not only in those who smoke, but also in those who are frequently exposed to tobacco smoke. Passive smoking can damage children’s eyes, causing strabismus or allergic conjunctivitis. Adults who smoke can develop many eye conditions, including cataracts, uveitis, and thyroid eye disease.

For more information, see the Effect of Smoking on Eye Health.

Skin health

SmokingIn many cases, changes to skin due to smoking are not life threatening, though they can change the physical appearance of the smoker. For example, smoking is associated with premature ageing, wrinkles, dry skin and skin discolouration. Smoking is also associated with very serious skin conditions, including skin cancer and psoriasis.

For more information, see the Effect of Smoking on Skin Health.

The mouth

SmokingSmoking also has a part to play in several diseases and lesions in the mouth, the most common being gum disease. The chance of dental implant failure is more common among smokers than among non-smokers, and gum disease around these implants in those who smoke is also more prevalent.

For more information, see the Effect of Smoking on the Mouth.


SmokingTobacco smoking is associated with male infertility and/or suboptimal sperm production. On average, sperm concentration for smokers is 13% lower than for non-smokers. Smoking men also have a lower average proportion of motile and morphologically normal sperm compared to non-smoking men.

For more information, see the Effect of Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs on Sperm.


Pregnancy and SmokingSmoking or being exposed to tobacco smoke, either before or during pregnancy is associated with a range of poor pregnancy outcomes, including reduced fertility, an increased risk of pregnancy complications and impaired infant and child development. Tobacco smoke exposure is considered one of the few, preventable causes of poor pregnancy outcomes in developed countries like Australia.

For more information, see Smoking and Passive Smoking during Pregnancy.

Quitting smoking

Video: How to quit smoking

Smoking videoSmoking rates are declining, but there are still people out there who are struggling with how to quit smoking. It’s not as hard as you’ve been led to believe. Dr Joe Kosterich suggests some strategies for quitting smoking.Watch the video How to Quit Smoking.

Strategies for quitting smoking

SmokingMost Australians who take up smoking regret it and make at least one attempt to quit in their lifetime. Quitting smoking has a very high relapse rate and therefore while many people are able to quit, maintaining a smoke-free lifestyle is a challenge. The most effective quit regimes combine pharmacotherapy with some form of psychological intervention.

For more information, see How to Quit Smoking.

Cognitive-behavioural therapy

Cognitive-behavioural therapyCognitive-behavioural therapy(CBT) is a promising psychological intervention for people who want to quit smoking because changing and restructuring thought processes, combined with new learning behaviours, is essential for people who want to effectively quit smoking and maintain cessation.

For more information, see Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy for Quitting Smoking.

Nicotine replacement therapy

Nicotine replacement therapyNicotine replacement therapy (NRT) is a pharmacological intervention for smoking cessation. NRT delivers a dose of nicotine into the bloodstream, replacing the nicotine lost when a person stops smoking. Replacing nicotine is thought to ease the smoker away from cigarettes and other tobacco products by helping with nicotine withdrawal and cravings.

For more information, see Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT).

Health benefits of quitting smoking

SmokingNo matter what your age or how long you have been smoking, there are many immediate and long-term benefits of quitting. There is comprehensive and conclusive scientific evidence confirming that the risk of disease in former smokers is less than that in smokers of the same age and gender.

For more information, see Health Benefits of Quitting Smoking.

Health benefits of quitting smoking tool

SmokingHave you quit smoking? Or are thinking about trying to quit? Use this tool to see what health benefits you have already achieved and what benefits you can expect in the future if you stick with it.

For more information, see Health Benefits of Quitting Smoking Tool.

Factors affecting quitting smoking

Quit smokingQuitting smoking can be very daunting, and people thinking of quitting go through several stages of contemplation before they are ready to face the associated physical and psychological challenges. The factors associated with the decision to quit, and the difficulty of continuing to not smoke, depend upon your personal situation, experience, personality and support network.

For more information, see Factors Affecting Quitting Smoking.

Quit smoking now

New Year's Resolution: Quit smokingEven though smoking carries serious health risks, a significant proportion of the Australian population continues to smoke. Many smokers attempt to quit at some stage, and each year many individuals choose quitting smoking as one of their New Year’s Resolutions.

For more information, see New Year’s Resolution: Quit Smoking.  

Managing the side effects

Managing mood changes

Quitting smoking: Managing the associated mood changesFor some, smoking is used as an avenue to relieve negative moods, to relax and reduce emotional distress. While smoking may appear to provide these psychological benefits, it is also associated with increased levels of stress and depression. Smokers report high or very high levels of psychological distress 20% of the time, compared to 10% of the time in non-smokers

For more information, see Quitting smoking: Managing the associated mood changes.

Managing weight gain

Quitting smoking: Managing the associated weight gain

Weight gain can be an unfortunate side effect of quitting smoking. Many people trying to quit smoking use food as a substitute for nicotine, which increases the total energy intake. Stopping smoking also reduces the metabolic rate, which decreases total energy utilisation. The combination of increased energy intake and decreased energy output will result in weight gain.

For more information, see Quitting Smoking: Managing the Associated Weight Gain.


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Posted On: 14 May, 2009
Modified On: 3 August, 2016
Reviewed On: 11 October, 2010


Created by: myVMC