Smoking and Diabetes

by diabetes care guide

Smoking on its own causes blood vessel damage, heart attacks, strokes and lung disease. Combining smoking and diabetes dramatically increases your risk of developing diabetes-related complications.

What’s at stake?

Smoking when you have diabetes:

  • Increases the amount of blood glucose and decreases your body’s ability to use insulin.
  • Increases the risk of a heart attack. When you smoke with diabetes you are 11 times more likely to die of heart attack or stroke.
  • Increases your risk of kidney disease (nephropathy) and nerve damage (neuropathy).
  • Decreases the amount of oxygen reaching your tissues and increases the length of time you take to heal a wound.

If you smoke, consider the pros and cons of quitting. Do you find yourself thinking that since you already have diabetes, smoking doesn’t make a big difference? You know managing your diabetes helps prevent complications… smoking can cancel all of your hard work!


Nicotine, like other drugs can give you a temporary ‘good feeling’. But every time you smoke you do damage to your body. Find other ways to feel good.

Not ready to quit?

If you are not convinced that quitting smoking is worth it, take some time to look at the risks associated with smoking. Talk with your diabetes team, and look at the many available resources about smoking cessation programs. Make sure you fully understand the impact of your decision to continue smoking. Make an informed decision.

Planning on kicking the habit?

There are several ways to approach quitting smoking. Many people are able to stop ‘cold turkey’. Others gradually decrease the number of cigarettes they have each day. Nicotine replacement therapy and smoking cessation medication are available. Talk to your doctor to which is right for you.

In the meantime, small changes will add up.

  • Keep a positive attitude. Rather than say ‘I can’t quit’, say “I want to be healthier!”
  • Change your habits that promote smoking. Stick to environments that are non-smoking. Go for a walk instead of having a cigarette after meals or during work breaks.
  • Keep your cigarettes and lighter out of reach…and out of sight.
  • Tell your friends and family you are working at quitting. Sharing your goals can help keep them in focus.

Whichever approach you decide to use, remember to reward yourself for small successes along the way!

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