Sports And Smoking

The prevalence of smoking in sports, especially in organizations designed for children and teens, can be detrimental to the health of athletes and raise the risk of smoking-related diseases. The effects of smoking don’t only affect an athlete’s health, but her performance on the field as well.

Sports and Smoking

The effects of smoking on athletic performance are negative and predictable. The levels of carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke can reduce the amount of oxygen absorbed into a smoker’s blood stream, reducing the levels of oxygen delivered to the body’s systems. When cells are deprived of oxygen, they may suffer damage.

This effect worsens if the airways are compromised by the swelling of mucous membranes, which is another result of smoking. The combination of sports and smoking may also lead to a rapid heartbeat, decreased ability to sustain exertion and shortness of breath.

Effects of Smoking on Injuries

Because smoking lowers oxygen delivery, body systems damaged by exertion or sports-related injuries may have a harder time recovering. Low oxygen delivery can slow healing times for tendons and broken bones. Smoking in sports can lead to complications during the healing process for more serious injuries.

Smoking also interferes with the body’s ability to produce collagen. This means that smoking raises the risk of injury to cartilaginous tissue, such as joints. Wear and tear on these tissues may also accumulate more quickly in athletes who smoke than in those who don’t.

Effects of Smoking in Sports Psychology

One of the lesser-recognized effects of smoking on athletic performance is a secondary effect. People who combine sports and smoking tend to progress slowly in the athletic arena, and have lower improvement rates. This, coupled with increased injury rates and breathing difficulty, means that smokers may be less motivated to participate in demanding sports.

If you smoke, cigarettes may be standing in the way of your competitive drive, or worse, preventing you from enjoying a sport that you love.

Preventing Smoking in Sports Organizations

Many parents and health experts have begun initiatives to keep children and teens away from tobacco use. Some of these efforts are targeted at children involved in sports and athletic teams. Proponents of these programs, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, state that sports provide healthy activities for children, which may shift their interests away from the idea of smoking.


Centers For Disease Control. (2010). Introduction to tobacco-free sports. Retrieved September 25, 2010, from

JAMA and Archives Journals. (2009). Team sports participation reduces likelihood of youths becoming established smokers; Smoking in movies increases risk. Retrieved October 5, 2010, from