Smoking and smoking cessation

Many people like to enjoy a cigarette during a break or while drinking a beer. Among other things, smoking increases the risk for cancer and many infectious diseases and negatively impacts physical fitness and the cardiovascular system. Learn more about the benefits of quitting and how to do it.

At a glance

  • Smoking increases the risk for various diseases and is also quite expensive.
  • Smokers are more susceptible to infectious diseases like the flu and pneumonia and have a greater risk of developing many types of cancer, particularly lung cancer and malignant tumors of the mouth and throat.
  • Smoking is highly addictive. It is best to never even start.
  • There are various strategies and programs that can help smokers stop smoking.
  • Pregnant women should never smoke because smoking increases the risk of health problems for developing babies.

Note: The information in this article cannot and should not replace a medical consultation and must not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment.

Smoking: woman standing at a window holding a cigarette in her hand and exhaling smoke. Her face is surrounded in swathes of smoke.

What is smoking?

Most smokers try at some point to quit smoking. Smoking a cigarette after a meal, during a break, or while drinking a beer is a habit for many people. However, there are many good reasons to quit smoking: for example, smoking increases the risk of developing various diseases and is also quite expensive. However, it is not always easy to break a habit like smoking. It often takes multiple attempts.

Smoking: hand holding a smoking cigarette and stubbing it out on a wooden surface. A number of cigarette stubs are lying around.

What are the effects of smoking?

Smoking is unhealthy. Smokers are more susceptible to infectious diseases like the flu, colds, and pneumonia among other things. Smoking can also lead to a chronic cough and lung disease. Smoking also negatively affects physical fitness and damages the cardiovascular system. This can lead to complications like heart attack and stroke.

The risk for numerous types of cancer, particularly lung cancer and malignant tumors of the mouth and throat, is also increased in smokers.

Smoking also promotes gingivitis and periodontitis and affects overall tooth health.

Wounds heal more slowly in smokers resulting in the additional risk for complications after surgery.

The potential consequences of smoking include chronic cough and lung disease, risk of many types of cancer, deterioration in physical fitness, gingivitis and periodontitis.

Smoking during pregnancy impacts the development of the unborn child. Nicotine and harmful substances from the smoke can reduce the supply of oxygen. That is one of the reasons why pregnant women who smoke are more likely to miscarry. There is also an increased risk that the child will be premature, too small, or weigh too little.

How can people be prevented from starting to smoke?

Once someone has become addicted to nicotine, it is very difficult to quit smoking. Therefore, it is best to never even start smoking. However, a majority of smokers start smoking in their youth. Young people are often not particularly worried about their health.

Many parents wonder how they can stop their children from starting to smoke. On the one hand, parents should be aware of the important function of role models: having parents, siblings, or friends who smoke makes a person much more likely to begin smoking. On the other hand, it is good for parents to have an open and honest conversation with their children about the risks posed by smoking. Tip: it is often helpful to be patient, to listen, and to avoid criticism.

How can a smoker quit smoking?

There are various ways and strategies for giving up smoking. After several attempts, many smokers manage to quit on their own. However, many people find it easier with support even though multiple attempts are usually still needed. For example, doctors, health centers, and self-help groups can provide support. There are many smoking cessation programs sponsored by health insurance providers.

There are various different ways and strategies for giving up smoking. Smokers can get help from, for example, doctors, advice centers or self-help groups, smoking cessation courses, nicotine replacement therapy.

Nicotine replacement therapy to reduce the physical symptoms of withdrawal can be helpful when quitting. Tobacco is replaced by nicotine patches or gum. Certain medications can help with withdrawal. It is not yet clear whether e-cigarettes can help people quit smoking.

For more information about quitting smoking, visit

What happens after quitting smoking?

Most people who successfully stop smoking gain some weight, particularly in the first year. The reason for this is not that people eat more food or more snacks but rather that their metabolism changes. In addition, smoking suppresses hunger. The changes in weight can vary greatly. Some people do not gain any weight while some lose weight and others gain more than 5 kilos.

Without question, it is healthier to gain a little weight than to continue smoking. Metabolism and weight can normalize over time.

Stopping smoking – when does the body recover?

How quickly does the body recover when you stop smoking? The video below provides information on this.

This and other videos can also be found on YouTube

Watch now

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In cooperation with the Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (Institut für Qualität und Wirtschaftlichkeit im Gesundheitswesen) (IQWiG). As at:

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