One of the many factors that can significantly affect an individual's blood glucose levels and overall health is tobacco use, including smoking cigarettes and other tobacco and nicotine containing products. In this article, I will discuss the dangers of smoking and even vaping for people with diabetes, the underlying mechanisms that contribute to these risks, and the benefits of quitting.

In this Diabetic & Me article, you will learn about the following:

  • My personal experience smoking as a diabetic
  • Why is smoking bad for diabetics
  • The risk factors of smoking
  • The benefits of quitting smoking

My Personal Experience Smoking

For more than seven years, I found myself trapped in the grip of a cigarette addiction. Naturally, my health consequences were constantly on my mind. Then, one day, I came down with a severe cold that made smoking even a single cigarette unbearable. After a week of refraining from my usual habit, I made the life-changing decision to quit altogether. Now, eight years later, I am proud to say that I have successfully maintained my smoking cessation without any nicotine replacement therapy. I gradually overcame the addiction on my own and have been reaping the benefits of better health ever since. To me, it's clear that chronic disease prevention and quitting smoking are intertwined, and making that decision has been instrumental in my journey toward a healthier life.

The Prevalence of Smoking and Vaping among Diabetic Individuals

The prevalence of smoking among individuals with diabetes is alarmingly high, with studies estimating that around 20% of diabetic patients smoke cigarettes. Moreover, vaping has also gained popularity in recent years as an alternative to traditional smoking. Both practices pose considerable risks for people with diabetes, making it critical to understand the consequences and ways to mitigate them.

Why is Smoking Bad for Diabetics?

There are many reasons why people with diabetes should quit smoking - in addition to the well-known ones, like preventing cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance., and digestive and kidney diseases.

Diabetes is a complex metabolic disorder that requires diligent management to maintain optimal health and prevent complications. Among the many factors influencing the well-being of individuals with diabetes, smoking and diabetes stands out as a particularly detrimental habit.

We'll explore the reasons why smoking is so harmful for diabetics, delving into the effects on blood glucose control, cardiovascular health, kidney function, wound healing, and more. By understanding these risks, diabetic patients and their healthcare providers can work together to develop effective strategies to quit smoking and enhance overall health outcomes.

Smoking causes many health problems. In fact, smoking can make a diabetic's condition worsened over time and can lead to mny complications Below you can find reasons smoking is bad and you should stop now. While you still can!

Impaired blood glucose control

Nicotine, the primary active ingredient in both cigarettes and e-cigarettes, has a negative impact on blood glucose control in individuals with diabetes. Nicotine increases insulin resistance, leading to higher blood glucose levels and making it more difficult for diabetic patients to maintain target levels. This can result in poor glycemic control and an increased risk of developing diabetes-related complications.

Increased cardiovascular risks

People with diabetes are already at an elevated risk for cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attacks and strokes. Smoking exacerbates this risk by damaging blood vessels, increasing blood pressure, and promoting the formation of blood clots. The combination of diabetes and tobacco use significantly heightens the chances of developing life-threatening cardiovascular conditions.

Kidney damage

Smoking is a known risk factor for kidney damage, which is especially dangerous for people with diabetes. Diabetic nephropathy, a type of kidney disease, is a common complication of diabetes, and smoking increases the risk of developing this condition. As kidney function declines, the body's ability to filter waste and toxins from the blood decreases, leading to kidney failure if left untreated.

Delayed wound healing

Individuals with diabetes often experience slower wound healing, leaving them vulnerable to infection and complications. Smoking impairs the body's ability to heal by reducing blood flow to the skin, lowering oxygen levels, and impairing the function of immune cells. Consequently, diabetic patients who smoke are at an increased risk of developing severe infections and other complications.

Diabetic neuropathy

Smoking contributes to the development and progression of diabetic neuropathy, a form of nerve damage resulting from prolonged high blood glucose levels. Smoking impairs blood flow and oxygen delivery to nerves, exacerbating nerve damage and leading to severe pain, numbness, and even amputation in extreme cases.

Respiratory health

Diabetic individuals are at a higher risk of developing respiratory infections, such as pneumonia and bronchitis. Smoking impairs lung function and weakens the immune system, making it more difficult for diabetic patients to fight off respiratory infections.

Eye diseases

Diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and cataracts are common eye complications associated with diabetes. Smoking can worsen these conditions by decreasing blood flow to the eyes, increasing oxidative stress, and promoting inflammation, leading to a higher risk of vision loss and blindness.

Joint pain

The nicotine in cigarettes can make it harder for the body to produce healthy cells called chondrocytes, which help maintain joint mobility. So those who smoke will have an increased risk of developing arthritis or other conditions with symptoms like stiffness or joint pain. When smoking tobacco products, one has a higher risk of getting rheumatoid arthritis.

Elevated blood pressure

Smoking cigarettes can cause your blood pressure to rise and increase the risk of heart disease. This is a real concern for people who are diabetic, as they already have an increased chance of cardiovascular issues.

Higher blood sugar levels

Smoking has been linked to diabetes. The nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes cause the body's insulin levels to rise, which makes it difficult for people with diabetes to control their blood sugar levels because they have a higher chance of unpredictably fluctuating glucose. This can lead to more problems like heart disease or kidney failure.

Increased cholesterol levels

It's not just fatty food that increases your cholesterol levels; it's also smoking cigarettes. It doesn't matter what you do in life if this is your habit -- the risk for heart disease will still be increased significantly.

Even though it may seem harmless to smoke just one cigarette, these small choices add up over time leading many people into very unhealthy lifestyles that lead to early death.

In summary, cigarette smoking is bad for diabetics because it exacerbates existing health risks and introduces new ones, making it harder to manage diabetes treatment and increasing the likelihood of developing severe complications.

The Benefits of Quitting Smoking and Vaping

Quitting smoking and vaping can significantly improve the health of diabetic patients. The benefits include:

Improved blood glucose control

Quitting smoking can lead to significant improvements in blood glucose control for individuals with diabetes. When you stop smoking, your body's insulin resistance decreases, making it easier to maintain target blood glucose levels. This improvement in glycemic control can reduce the risk of diabetes-related complications and make it easier to manage your condition effectively.

Reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases

By quitting smoking, individuals with diabetes can significantly lower their risk of cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attacks and strokes. Smoking cessation helps reduce damage to blood vessels, lower blood pressure, and decrease the formation of blood clots. As a result, your cardiovascular health can significantly improve, protecting you from life-threatening conditions associated with both diabetes and tobacco use.

Lower risk of kidney damage and kidney disease progression

Quitting smoking can have a positive impact on kidney health in individuals with diabetes. Smoking is a known risk factor for kidney damage, and stopping this habit can reduce the risk of developing diabetic nephropathy, a type of kidney disease. Furthermore, quitting smoking can slow down the progression of existing kidney disease, preserving kidney function, and potentially delaying the need for dialysis or transplantation.

Enhanced wound healing

One of the benefits of quitting smoking for people with diabetes is improved wound healing. Smoking impairs blood flow to the skin and reduces oxygen levels, which can hinder the body's natural healing process. When you quit smoking, your body's ability to heal wounds improves, reducing the risk of infection, complications, and even amputation in some cases.

Improve your taste

Smoking can impair your sense of taste, which can affect your overall enjoyment of food. When you quit smoking, your taste buds can recover, allowing you to experience the full range of flavors in your meals. This improved sense of taste can also help you make healthier food choices, which is particularly important for individuals with diabetes who need to follow a balanced diet to maintain blood glucose control.

Increased overall quality of life

Quitting smoking can have a tremendous impact on the overall quality of life for individuals with diabetes. In addition to the direct health benefits mentioned above, stopping smoking can improve lung function, increase energy levels, and enhance mental well-being. Moreover, by quitting smoking, you can reduce the financial burden associated with purchasing tobacco products and the social stigma often attached to smoking. These improvements can lead to a happier, healthier, and more fulfilling life for individuals living with diabetes.

The Role of Healthcare Providers in Supporting Smoking and Vaping Cessation

Healthcare providers play a critical role in supporting individuals with diabetes to quit smoking and vaping. By proactively addressing tobacco use during medical visits, healthcare providers can assess patients' readiness to quit, provide personalized counseling, and recommend appropriate pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions. By working together, healthcare providers and diabetic patients can develop effective strategies to achieve and maintain a tobacco-free lifestyle.

The Importance of Public Health Initiatives and Diabetes Education

Raising awareness of the dangers of smoking and vaping for people with diabetes is crucial in promoting healthier lifestyles and reducing the risk of diabetes-related complications. Public health initiatives and diabetes education programs should focus on highlighting the risks associated with tobacco use and providing resources to help individuals quit. These efforts can empower diabetic patients to make informed decisions about their health and improve their overall quality of life.


In conclusion, quitting smoking is a crucial step for individuals with diabetes to improve their health and overall quality of life. By overcoming tobacco addiction, diabetics can experience better blood glucose control, reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases, enhanced wound healing, and a range of other health benefits. As I shared in my personal journey, quitting smoking is possible and can lead to a profound positive transformation in one's life. It's essential for those living with diabetes to recognize the connection between smoking cessation and chronic disease prevention. With determination, support, and the right strategies, anyone can embark on this rewarding journey toward a healthier, happier, and smoke-free life.


To ensure that we give you correct, accurate, and relevant information, all articles on Diabetic & Me are backed by verified information from academic research papers, well-known organizations, research institutions, and medical associations.

About the Author

Ely Fornoville

Hi, I'm Ely Fornoville, and I am the founder of Diabetic & Me. Being a type 1 diabetic since 1996, I developed a passion to help people learn more about diabetes. I write about diabetes and share stories from other diabetics around the world. I currently use a Medtronic Guardian 4 CGM and a MiniMed 780G insulin pump with Humalog insulin.

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