The Effects of Smoking on the Brain

The lungs almost always take centre stage when it comes to the discussions about the negative effects of smoking; little is said about the effects of smoking on the brain.

According to a recent Scottish Mental Health Survey that was published in the New Scientist magazine, (involving 450 subjects over a period of fifty years) smoking reduces one’s memory and cognitive abilities. With that said, we’re going to dig deeper into the effects of smoking on the brain in attempt to confirm these findings.


Smoking induces nicotine in the body which further triggers a rise in the levels of adrenaline. The body wrongfully senses danger and thus acts in a way to defend itself (adrenaline is the hormone produced in response to danger). Thus the smoker’s brain suffers from a false danger alarm.


Most people run in the notion that smoking reduces stress. Ironically, instead of reducing stress, it takes it to a whole new level. Well, stress may appear to reduce within the first 30 minutes but in the long run, it’ll re-incarnate at a higher level than it previously was thus resulting in a vicious cycle.


As one continuously smokes, the brain gets used to functioning under the influence of nicotine. The body thus becomes less likely to respond to various forms of stimuli in a natural setting. It therefore becomes hard for one to control their moods and metabolic regulators. This may in turn translate to social, psychological and medical problems.

Burning of Fats

Another effect of nicotine in the body is that it triggers an increase in the body metabolic rate. A faster metabolic rate leads to faster burning of calories leading to weight loss. Smoking also reduces the brain’s sensitivity towards caffeine.

Production of Dopamine

Dopamine is a hormone that triggers the body to feel pleasure towards a certain phenomenon. Smoking triggers the production of this substance in the body leading to a constant craving to smoke. Thus the body tends to take smoking as a reward. This effect normally converts a one time smoker into a chain smoker.


Studies also closely link the production of opioids (a feel-good hormone) with smoking. This hormone is seen the harbor similar effects to those of dopamine.

Withdrawal Effects

As for those who quit smoking, the withdrawal effects of tobacco on the brain can lead to sudden mood changes, anxiety and irritability. Due to the brain becoming too much accustomed to nicotine, one tends to feel the urge of continuing smoking in an attempt to restore the “normal functioning” of their bodies.

Other Effects of Smoking on the Brain

  • Smoking leads to the blockage of the carotid artery thus cutting off the supply of blood to the brain cells. In extreme cases this can lead to cerebral thrombosis stroke. Normally, smokers are at a higher likelihood of suffering from stroke as compared to non-smokers.
  • Smoking leads to the accumulation of free radicals in the brain thus leading to oxidative stress.

Why should you quit smoking? Smoking affects the normal functioning of your brain. You therefore need to quit smoking in as much as you want to avoid strokes, mood swings and other negative effects that come with this vice.

About the author:
Danny Duric is a fitness instructor. He likes to upgrade his knowledge about health and fitness and share it with others. He is also an internet addict, occasionally blogger. Currently writing on behalf of E-Cigarettes R Us Australia, more info here.

Danny Duric

+Danny Duric is an adventurer, Internet addict and a part time blogger.

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