If you or someone you know is in crisis, contact the Military Crisis Line at 988 and press 1, or Text 838255. You can also call 911.

Questions About Smoking

Searching for answers about smoking tobacco? Find what you need to know by checking out these frequently asked questions about smoking.

Questions About Smoking

Answers About Smoking


Does smoking affect my physical fitness and readiness?

Yes. Even if you can’t see or feel the difference, tobacco negatively impacts your physical fitness and readiness in many ways. For example:

  • Smokers have less endurance than non-smokers
  • You are more likely to be injured during physical activity if you smoke and it can take longer to heal after an injury
  • Smoking can cause fatigue, shortness of breath and coughing
  • You may have difficulty seeing in the dark since nicotine can reduce your night vision

Quitting tobacco can improve your physical fitness and readiness, get started on your own quit journey today.


What is secondhand smoke?

Secondhand smoke includes:

  • Smoke from a burning tobacco product
  • Smoke breathed out by a smoker

Secondhand smoke contains the same chemicals in smoked tobacco (e.g., cigarettes, cigars, pipes or hookah) and can be inhaled by anyone around you including friends, family, children and pets. There is no safe level of secondhand smoke exposure.

Inhaling secondhand smoke can cause nonsmokers to develop breathing problems like coughing or wheezing and can negatively impact their heart or blood vessels. It can also cause other serious health problems like lung cancer, heart disease and stroke. Exposure to secondhand smoke makes your children more likely to have more ear infections, asthma attacks, coughing and sneezing. It also increases their chances of developing bronchitis and pneumonia. Pets that are exposed to secondhand smoke can get cancer as well.

Secondhand smoke can be deadly. It contributes to more than 40,000 deaths of U.S. adults each year.


What is thirdhand smoke?

Thirdhand smoke is when tobacco smoke sticks to the walls, carpet, furniture or other objects. Think of it like this: when you smoke tobacco, the air is filled with smoke which creates that brief fog-like appearance. After the smoke settles and clears away, chemicals from the tobacco product smoke and nicotine are still there and cling to surfaces like the skin, blankets, toys and even the fur of pets. This residue reacts with other things in the air resulting in substances that are bad for many people’s health including the tobacco user, nonsmokers and children.


How does smoking affect my appearance?

Smoking can affect your appearance in several ways like early aging and causing wrinkles on your face. Smoking can also cause:

  • Uneven skin tone
  • Baggy eyes
  • Yellow teeth
  • Gray hair before age 30

Worried that you’ve seen some of these effects? Remember! You can protect the things you care about (like that beautiful smile) by quitting tobacco. During your quit you can use these tips to help you build healthy habits to improve your health and increase your chances of quitting smoking.


I have smoked for years, is it too late to stop?

Not at all! No matter how long you’ve smoked, you can see an improvement in your health and quality of life if you quit and stay quit. Quitting smoking can add as much as a decade back to your life and is the most important action you can take to improve your health. When you make the decision to ditch tobacco, you can quickly start seeing benefits like better night vision and stronger muscles.

Quitting tobacco is a tough journey, but if you want to quit and stay quit, a great first step is to identify your unique reason(s) for quitting. It is never too late to improve yourself and your health. Use the YouCanQuit2 Quit Plan to make your future tobacco free.


Is smoking cigars safer than smoking cigarettes?

Cigar smoking is often done in social settings or at celebratory events and is seen as more sophisticated and less dangerous than cigarette smoking—but that isn’t true. One large cigar, which takes about 1-2 hours to smoke, has similar amounts of tobacco as an entire pack of cigarettes but cigar smoke has higher levels of cancer-causing substances, more tar and more toxins. While there are different types of cigars, such as cigarillos and little cigars, they’re all a danger to health no matter the size.


Is it healthier if I roll my own cigarettes?

Hand-rolled cigarettes are not any safer than those from off the shelf. In fact, individuals who have exclusively smoked hand-rolled cigarettes have higher risk of cancer than those who smoked cigarettes that are machine-made. Potential reasons for this include: use of filters in hand-rolled cigarettes is varied, paper used in hand-rolled cigarettes is different and users may inhale more smoke and rolling tobacco may have more additives compared to pre-made cigarettes.


Is hookah safer to use because it’s filtered through water?

Many think hookah water pipes are a safe alternative to cigarettes because the smoke passes through water before it is inhaled. The water, however, does not filter out any toxins. Hookah has actually been shown to contain chemicals, nicotine, tar and heavy metals in concentrations that are as high or even higher than those in cigarette smoke. As a result, it carries similar or potentially worse negative health outcomes as smoking cigarettes. Hookah is also typically used in group settings with the same mouthpiece being passed around which may increase the risk of getting contagious diseases such as tuberculosis, hepatitis, herpes and more.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, contact the Military Crisis Line at 988 and press 1, or Text 838255. You can also call 911.