Student Wellness Services

Student Wellness Services

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Smoking and Other Drugs


Smoking at Queen’s

According to the 2016 National College Health Assessment, the majority of Queen's students (77.3%) have never used cigarettes.  Of those students who have smoked, 20.6% would be considered occasional smokers and 2.1% are regular smokers.

Compared to the general population, more Queen's students make healthy choices about tobacco use. However, all students continue to be at risk from second-hand smoke. About 1000 Canadians die each year from complications caused by, or conditions exacerbated by second-hand smoke inhalation. 

In the general population, men and women aged 20 - 22 form the largest group of smokers (37% of men, and 36% of women) - this number is much smaller at Queen's. However, the fastest growing group of smokers is young women aged 15 - 19. Tobacco companies continue to specifically target this group through various marketing tactics. 

Leave the Pack Behind is an inter-university group run by students, for students dedicated to educating others about the risks of smoking, and to provide non-judgemental, peer-based interventions in order to reduce smoking amongst university students. It also includes links to other fun and informative websites. 

If you currently smoke or know someone that does, find out about the social risks and the health risks of smoking, and the benefits of quitting

Smoking Cessation Appointments

Health Promotion staff offer one-on-one consultation appointments to any Queen’s student who wants to quit smoking. Through professional advice, coaching and resources students can learn what will work best for them to either cut back or stop smoking all together.

If you are interesting in setting up a Healthy Lifestyle and/or Smoking Cessation appointment, please contact:

Kate Humphrys, BPHE/BSC, BEd, MA
Phone: 613-533-6712
Location: 140 Stuart Street

Health Consequences

Cigarette smoke contains over 4000 chemicals. Each puff of smoke contains chemicals that are invisible gases and may condense and remain in the smoker's mouth or lungs. Many of the chemicals found in cigarette smoke are either carcinogenic (cancer-causing), mutagenic (causing permanent damage to DNA) or both.

Cigarette smoke starts off by paralysing and killing the cilia (small hairs which line the lower respiratory tract and remove debris from the lungs). This may lead to respiratory problems such as:

  • pneumonia
  • chronic bronchitis
  • emphysema
  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Smoking can also affect the body's circulation system. Smoking introduces a number of gases into the blood, including carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide displaces oxygen and attaches to haemoglobin (the molecule that carries oxygen in the blood) with a bond more than 200 times stronger than the bond between haemoglobin and oxygen. This drastically reduces the level of oxygen in the blood. Nicotine also causes a build-up of fat and plaque on blood vessels, thereby making them inelastic. Both of these mechanisms require the heart to work harder and result in a higher risk of:

  • heart disease and / or heart attack
  • peripheral vascular disease
  • aneurysm
  • high blood cholesterol
  • stroke

In addition, smoking can cause other long term consequences, such as the heightened occurrence of:

  • cancer of the mouth, throat, pancreas, lungs, kidney and urinary bladder
  • ulcers
  • bowel problems
  • cataracts
  • erectile dysfunction
  • miscarriage

Fortunately, many of these health consequences begin to reverse themselves once smoking is ceased. Find out the benefits of quitting smoking.

Smoking - The Social Consequences (Here and Now) the 70's and 80's, smoking was seen as the cool and "in" thing to do. This was largely due to the tobacco industry's marketing campaigns portraying smoking as the activity of choice for rugged cowboys, rebels, sophisticated young women, star athletes, movie stars, and other role models for teenagers and impressionable youth. 

Today however, smoking is seen in a different light. Those who smoke, and those around them almost immediately notice:

  • staining of fingernails, skin and teeth from cigarette tar
  • tooth decay
  • wrinkled skin
  • "smoker's cough" and lots of excess mucus
  • the smell of cigarette smoke constantly in their clothes, hair and breath


Many of the health risks associated with smoking are reversible, and health begins to improve as soon as the smoker has their last cigarette:


20 minutes

blood pressure and pulse rate return to normal

8 hours

blood nicotine and carbon monoxide levels are halved and oxygen levels begin to return to normal

24 hours

carbon monoxide is eliminated from the body
cilia begin to function again and lungs start to clean themselves out (resulting in lots of coughing and phlegm)

48 hours

nicotine is eliminates from the body
sense of taste and smell improves
risk of heart attack has begun to decrease

72 hours

bronchial tubes begin to relax - breathing becomes easier
energy levels increase

2 - 12 weeks

peripheral circulation improves
lung function increases by 30%

3 - 9 months

coughing, wheezing, etc improves
lung function increases a further 10%

1 year

risk of heart attack falls to about half that of a non-smoker

10 years

risk of lung cancer falls to about half that of a non-smoker

15 years

risk of heart attack falls to the same as that of a non-smoker

From Health Canada and Action on Smoking & Health

Study Drugs