Social Consequences of Smoking

In addition to the health risks associated with smoking, using tobacco has negative impacts on a person socially. For some teens, these social consequences may be more concerning than the health ones. Keep reading for more on the social consequences of smoking.

Smoking is marketed to young people as being a cool thing to do. The media often portrays tough or attractive people smoking, though this trend has been changing in recent years. More people are beginning to realize now that smoking has a negative impact on their social lives and opportunities, and this is why many young people choose not to smoke or want to quit. In fact, teens who realize that smoking affects their social life by driving away friends or dating partners are more likely to quit smoking.

Some of the negative social consequences of smoking are based on what smoking does to the person's body. Cigarettes and even smokless tobacco can:

  • Stain teeth yellow. It can be expensive to try to whiten teeth stained by smoking. Having yellow teeth makes a person look older and is unattractive to others.
  • Stain fingernails and skin. People can develop yellow fingernails and skin from smoking, which also makes them look unhealthy and unattractive.
  • Increase tooth decay. Smokers may lose teeth to early tooth decay.
  • Cause a cough, which may make other people avoid the smoker.
  • Wrinkle skin. This makes smokers look older than they are.
  • Cause bad breath. People may not want to get very close to a smoker, and they especially might not want to kiss them.
  • Make clothes smell bad. Many people don't like the smell of smokers, and some are even allergic to the smoke and will keep their distance.
  • Interfere with sex life. Not only does cigarette smoking make smokers less attractive to others, it can also interfere with relationships later in life. Smoking can cause sexual disfunction in males, and in females it can cause reduced fertility, miscarriage, and increased risk of losing babies to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
  • Lower ability to smell and taste. This can lead to a reduced enjoyment of food, so going out to eat with friends or enjoying someone’s cooking is less fun.
  • Increase asthma. Difficulty breathing may limit a teen’s ability to do things with others.
  • Decrease athletic ability. Smokers generally don’t perform as well as athletes who don’t smoke.

Other negative social consequences of smoking are based on how people view cigarettes and their health consequences, and on laws meant to reduce smoking:

  • Smoking is expensive. Smokers have less money for other activities because they spend their money on cigarettes.
  • In many states a person may only smoke outside or in certain designated areas. This forces a person who is a student or an employee to take cigarette breaks outside even if it is raining, snowing, or very hot. When a person is on an airplane or another place where smoking is illegal they may get impatient and unpleasant because they need a cigarette and can't have one.
  • People who smoke in their car or their house may have trouble selling it later because others don't want to use a car or live in a house that smells like smoke.
  • People who smoke may be regarded as less intelligent or as poor by others.
  • It may be harder to make a good impression when smokers look for a job because of the stains on their body and the smell of cigarette smoke. This is especially true for jobs where the person is going to be interacting with the public or representing a company.
  • Most nonsmokers don't want to be around smokers, especially if they are allergic to smoke, are pregnant, or have young children. Smokers may get dirty looks from others who don't want to be exposed to their smoke.
  • If you are not legally allowed to smoke, smoking may also get you in trouble at school, at home, or with the police.

People who smoke may find in general that others aren't very excited to be around them, especially when they are smoking. They will smell bad and look less attractive to others. They will also look old sooner, possible losing teeth or having very unattractive teeth and getting wrinkly, leathery skin earlier in life. One of the best ways to stay looking young, attractive, and healthy is to take good care of your body, including not smoking. The more teens understand the negative effects of smoking on their social life the less likely they are to want to smoke.


Queen's University, Be Well, "Smoking - Social Consequences (Here and Now)"
Health Canada, "Stop Smoking Before It Starts: An Information Kit for Community Organizations Working with Adolescent Girls: Health and Social Consequences" [online]
National Institutes of Health, PubMed Central, "Implicit Associations between Smoking and Social Consequences Among Smokers in Cessation Treatment" [online]

Related Article: Effects of Teen Smoking >>