Smoking and Respiratory System

How Smoking affects the Respiratory System
Nicotine is the addictive drug in tobacco smoke that causes smokers to continue to smoke. Along with nicotine, smokers inhale about 7,000 other chemicals in cigarette smoke. Many of these chemicals come from burning tobacco leaf. Some of these compounds are chemically active and trigger damaging changes to nearly very organ in the body. Tobacco smoke contains over 60 carcinogens (cancer-causing chemicals).
Smoking is harmful as soon as the first time you smoke because some chemicals have an immediate effect on your body. Carbon monoxide from the smoke is taken into blood instead of oxygen. Less oxygen is therefore available for respiration, so whilst exercising smokers can get breathless easily. This is especially dangerous during pregnancy as the foetus can be deprived of oxygen. As well as that, cilia in the trachea and bronchi no longer move mucus and pathogens away from the lungs. This means the smoker is more likely to get infections of the respiratory system.
Some chemicals in smoke can cause serious long term damage to the delicate tissues of the respiratory system. There is evidence that tobacco smoking increases the risk of suffering some fatal diseases. One of these illnesses is chronic bronchitis. This is caused by the acidity in cigarette smoke and the many other chemicals, which in turn causes irritation of the bronchi and bronchioles. The lining becomes inflamed and swollen and can also become infected. Each cigarette adds to the irritation. Chronic bronchitis has symptoms of shortness of breath, coughing and chest pain. Tobacco smoke also contains tar, a black, sticky substance. This coats the lining of the alveoli and greatly increases the risk of emphysema. The structure of the alveoli breaks down so that there are fewer, larger air sacs. This reduces the surface area: volume ratio available for gaseous exchange and makes sufferers breathless. They may need oxygen and it can be a cause of death.