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Women and Smoking – effects of smoking

Most women are aware of the negative effects of smoking and know that smoking can cause lung cancer, heart disease and premature death. But what you may not know is that women, regardless of their age, can be harmed by smoking in so many other ways.

Smoking can wreak havoc on a woman's appearance, causing a sallow complexion, bad skin and premature ageing, as well as having effects on sexual health contributing to infertility, early menopause,1 and osteoporosis.2

Women who carry on smoking during pregnancy endanger not only themselves, but their babies too.3 Mothers who smoke around their children also put their kids' health at risk.3

The good news is that it is never too late to become smoke-free and join the thousands of women who have quit smoking to improve their health. Huge numbers of women quit each day – you can do it too. The sooner you do it, the greater the benefit.

This guide will help you better understand why smoking is particularly bad for women and show you the health, lifestyle and cosmetic benefits to quitting smoking whatever your age.


Smoking might seem exciting and cool but the reality is that it harms your body and your health from the first puff you take.


Tobacco smoke contains over 4,000 chemicals4 and can both dehydrate and deprive your skin of oxygen.5 Some research shows that the damaging effects of smoking on the skin may start earlier than previously thought.6 Over the years, if you continue smoking your face is more likely to develop wrinkles, crow's feet, all-round bad texture and can appear a washed-out yellow-grey colour.5

One of the best things you can do to help prevent bad skin is to stop smoking. Quit and you could see real benefits - skin can become smoother and brighter.7


Did you know that one of the effects of smoking is baldness and premature grey hair. Certain chemicals in smoke break down in hair cells, which leads to hair damage.8 Conversely, quitting can help to restore the flow of nutrients to the hair, improving nourishment and giving you back a healthy shine.


Smoking stains your teeth and makes them yellow.9 It leaves an unpleasant smell that lingers in the mouth and breath – smoking is one of the major causes of bad breath.



Smoking reduces fitness and sporting performance.10 If you smoke it is likely that you aren't going to be able to run as fast or as far as your smoke-free team mates. A smoker's heart has to work much harder than that of a nonsmoker so, in competition, your body wastes a lot more energy just trying to keep up with the non-smokers.10

Quitting smoking should enable you to work out much better than you could before and help you obtain optimum fitness.


Quitting smoking could ease the agony of painful periods. Girls and women who smoke may be more likely to have painful and irregular periods.3 Smoking can be risky for girls using the combined oral contraceptive pill as it may increase the chance of the pill failing.3 It can also cause breakthrough bleeding.11

Ask smoking really worth it?



Smoking can age you by 10 years or more!5 Your complexion is more likely to have a yellow-grey pallor and lines on the cheeks and lower jaw. The more a person smokes the greater the risk of premature wrinkling.5

If you quit now your skin should become healthier making you feel and look better.


Although the following list might seem grim, don't despair - you can see significant benefits by stopping smoking.

  • Risk of cervical cancer increases two-fold if you are a smoker.12
  • More than five-times greater risk of developing genital warts.13
  • Greater chance of menstrual irregularities.14
  • Higher combined contraceptive pill failure rate3 and breakthrough bleeding.11
  • Reduced chance of 10-40% per cycle, if you want to have a baby (more details in pregnancy section).12,15

The good news is that it's not too late to stop smoking. You will quickly notice all the benefits.


It is not only the skin that ages prematurely; it is a well-known fact that smoking reduces physical fitness.10 Smoking is bad for physical fitness even if you think you are fit. It lowers physical endurance and causes increased fatigue both during and after exercise.10

Quit and you will have much more energy!

Smoking in your 30s and 40s

Smoking and pregnancy