Cigarette smoking damages nearly every organ of the body, and in some cases this leads to the smoker needing surgery.

a) Cancer of lung and other areas

17% of male smokers will eventually get lung cancer, compared to 1.3% of non-smokers.90% of lung cancers in men, and 80% in women, are in smokers, even though only 19% of the population smoke.

Smokers also have an increased risk of cancers throughout the area where tobacco smoke touches the inside of the body, including the mouth and the larynx (voice box).

The poisons in tobacco smoke enter the blood from the lungs and spread around the body, where they can cause disease or cancer in other areas

b) Peripheral Vascular Disease

Smoking increases the risk of peripheral vascular disease 16 fold. This condition usually affects the blood flow to the legs, causing pain during walking. About three quarters of all patients with peripheral vascular disease have it because of smoking.

Chemicals in tobacco smoke damage the lining of blood vessels, and encourage the creation of fatty collections called atheroma on the inside of blood vessels, restricting the flow of blood. When the tissues do not get enough oxygen from the blood, this causes pain and eventually tissue damage and death. Nicotine constricts blood vessels and carbon monoxide reduces the ability of blood to carry oxygen, so both these parts of cigarette smoke make things worse. Smoking also makes the small platelets in blood stick together to form clots which can block blood vessels. This may result in ulcers and gangrene.

c) Coronary artery disease

Smoking damages the coronary arteries, which supply heart muscle tissue with blood and nutrients, and decreases HDL (good) cholesterol.

Smoking is the biggest risk factor for sudden cardiac death. Smokers have two to four times the risk of nonsmokers.

Many heart patients notice an almost immediate improvement when they stop smoking. Often, they need less medication and can cope better with physical exertion.

And if you've had a heart attack, quitting smoking reduces your risk of a subsequent fatal heart attack by 25 per cent.

d) Other conditions

The poisons in cigarette smoke pass throughout the body, causing problems in surprising places. For example, 20 % of cataracts of the eye are due to smoking. Smoking results in 50,000 Canadians per year needing cataract surgery .

Smoking damages the flow of blood needed by men to have an erection. Smoking and diabetes are the leading cause of impotency (inability to have an erection). Sometimes this requires penile implant surgery.

Half of all bladder cancers are caused by smoking, as the chemicals in cigarette smoke are often passed out of the body in the urine.

Smoking harms the aorta, the large blood vessel that moves blood from the heart to all parts of the body except the lungs. This can result in an aortic aneurysm, which may be fatal if not treated surgically.

Smoking is an important cause of stroke. The chance of stroke in heavy smokers (those who smoke more than 40 cigarettes a day) is twice that of light smokers (those who smoke fewer than 10 cigarettes per day.

Broken bones are more common in smokers. For example, smokers have an 84% higher risk of hip fractures, which are a common cause of disability and death in the elderly.


There are many reasons why smoking can increase the chance of you needing a surgical operation. Unfortunately, smokers are at higher risk when they need anesthesia and surgery.
For more details see the section “RISKS OF SURGERY FOR SMOKERS”.