The health effects of tobacco smoking are often mentioned in the media, and a lot of money is spent each year by state and Federal governments to try to reduce the number of smokers in Australia.
Smoking is illegal in Victoria for anyone under 18. If you're over 18, while it's your choice if you want to smoke or not, it's also good to know what some of the health effects are, and how to go about quitting if that's what you decide to do.
Research has shown that nicotine is addictive. This means that when you start smoking regularly, you usually become dependent on smoking. After a while, your body is used to working with nicotine and feels a need for a regular dose.
Research also shows that most smokers would like to quit. They're aware of the health problems smoking causes - both for themselves and for the people around them (see below for more on the health effects of smoking).
Smokers also realise that they spend a lot of money on cigarettes. You can work out how much you're really spending each year with the Better Health Channel's smoking cost calculator.
Quit has heaps of information about quitting, from reasons to quit and ways to quit to tips on dealing with cravings and advice on having another go at quitting.
Withdrawal and Cravings
If you quit smoking - especially if you quit all of a sudden, or go "cold turkey", you will most likely get withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms can include:
- Aches and pains
These symptoms are only temporary - your body will eventually recover and get used to living without nicotine. Check out the Quit website for ways to manage the first few days.
Health Effects of Smoking
Tobacco smoking is the single most common cause of bad health and premature death in Australia. Some of the more serious health problems associated with smoking include:
- Lung, mouth and throat cancer
- Heart attacks and strokes
- Gangrene and amputation of limbs
- Reduced male and female fertility
- Higher risk of blindness
Effects on Non-Smokers
Smoking also affects the health of people who don't smoke. Being around someone who is smoking can expose you to what's called "secondhand smoke", which is associated with a range of diseases and ill health effects. This is also sometimes referred to as "passive smoking".
For more about passive smoking and secondhand smoke, check out Quit's Passive Smoking Frequently Asked Questions.
Smoking and the Law
It's illegal to purchase cigarettes if you're under 18. It's also illegal to:
- Smoke in most enclosed workplaces
- Smoke, promote tobacco products, or sell tobacco products at underage events
- Smoke in covered areas of train station platforms, tram shelters and bus shelters
- Smoke in restaurants and places that serve food
- Smoke in all enclosed bars, clubs and pubs
The Victorian Government's Tobacco Reforms website website has all the details.
Find out about the Quit campaign and get information about tobacco and quitting smoking.
Better Health Channel - Smoking and tobacco
Information about the health effects and financial costs of smoking as well as services and support to help with quitting.
Find out about smoking restrictions in Victoria.