The risks of smoking

Smoking is one of the leading causes of ill health and premature death in Australia.

Around 22 South Australians die each week from diseases caused by smoking tobacco. Smoking also affects the health of others who breathe in second-hand smoke.

Millions of people in Australia have successfully quit smoking.

Quitting can be hard, but it is one of the best things you can do for your health. When you quit, you start to reduce the chances of illness and disease caused by smoking cigarettes. This means every quit attempt is worthwhile, even if you only manage to stay off cigarettes for a short time in the first attempt.

People who stop smoking tobacco experience health benefits almost immediately.

Smoking Harms

Cigarettes are full of poisons. Smoking affects every organ in your body – no doubt you’ve seen the television commercials and the warning labels.

Some of the harms include:

  • Lung and mouth cancer
  • Emphysema – irreversible damage to the air sacs in the lungs that causes shortness of breath. Just about every smoker has emphysema in its early stages.
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Health risks for your unborn baby.

For more information about smoking harms and quitting, visit the Quitline.


Want to find out more about the risks?

Check out the statistics on tobacco use in South Australia.

Support To Quit

Most people take more than one attempt to quit smoking for good and try a variety of methods before being successful.

Many people quit smoking by going ‘cold turkey’; most make several attempts without using any quit smoking medications. Others may first try to reduce the number of cigarettes smoked each day before they attempt to quit altogether.

Many people have success in stopping smoking if they use a support service such as Quitline (13 7848), which offers free telephone support, a call back service and other services.

Quit NOW: My QuitBuddy is a personalised phone app with quit tips, daily motivational messages and more.

Doctors, pharmacists and health professionals are good sources of information and can offer options for quitting, especially for advice on quit smoking medications. If you are taking other medications, it is important to see your doctor before quitting as the chemicals in cigarettes can change the way some medications work.

The Cancer Council SA Quitline website has great information about the harms of smoking to yourself and others, strategies for quitting, coping with cravings, and how to stay quit. The Give up smokes campaign includes specific information for Aboriginal people.

Quitline (13 7848) also has specific resources and support for smokers living with a mental illness who want to quit, as we know that quitting can be very difficult for these smokers but it can be done.

Get help from friends and family. You may be surprised at how much support and encouragement they can and want to provide. It can be useful to ask someone you trust to sit down with you to write a list of what you do and don’t like about smoking. This can be helpful in giving you the final impetus to make a quit attempt.

Ways To Quit

Smokers use many different strategies for quitting, but probably the most important thing to do is to plan your attempt. This helps you to understand why you smoke and plan some quitting strategies.

For information about medications, going cold turkey and other quitting methods visit the Cancer Council SA Quitline website or for free apps to help you quit, visit the Quitnow website.