According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, 5 million Americans receive blood transfusions each year.

There are many reasons that someone could need a blood transfusion. These reasons include:

  • a severe accident or injury
  • surgery
  • diseases or conditions such as anemia and hemophilia

The blood that’s used for this vital procedure is collected through the blood donation process. Donating blood is a great way to help someone who’s in need of a blood transfusion.

When you donate blood, you’ll need to answer some questions about your health, lifestyle, and travel history to determine your eligibility.

Does smoking cigarettes disqualify you from donating blood? Read on to learn more.

Smoking cigarettes in and of itself doesn’t disqualify you from donating blood.

If you’re a smoker and plan on donating blood, plan to refrain from smoking on the day of your appointment — both before your appointment and for three hours afterward.

Smoking before your appointment can lead to an increase in blood pressure. This may disqualify you from donating. Smoking afterward may lead to dizziness.

Smoking marijuana also doesn’t disqualify you from giving blood. However, the clinic is likely to turn you away if you show up to your appointment visibly high.

Other possible disqualifiers can include, but aren’t limited to:

  • using illegal injection drugs
  • using injection drugs not prescribed by your doctor, such as steroids
  • feeling sick or having an acute infection on or before the day of your appointment
  • being pregnant or having given birth within the past six weeks
  • receiving a tattoo or piercing within the past year
  • getting a blood transfusion or organ transplant in the past year
  • having HIV or testing positive for hepatitis B or C
  • having had leukemia, lymphoma, or other blood cancers
  • having an inherited blood clotting disorder or taking blood thinners
  • being a man who’s had sexual contact with other men within the past year

Some medication and travel history may also disqualify you from donating blood. It’s important to discuss these things when you arrive at the clinic to determine if you meet any disqualification guidelines.

Even though smoking doesn’t disqualify you from donating blood, it can eventually lead to conditions that can be disqualifiers for blood donation. These can include:

  • Cancers. You can’t donate if you’re currently being treated for cancer or if you’ve had leukemia or lymphoma. People who’ve had other types of cancer may need to wait one year after successful treatment.
  • High blood pressure. If your blood pressure is too high at the time of donation, you may not be able to donate.
  • Heart and lung disease. If you’re actively having symptoms of a heart or lung condition, you’re not eligible for donation. Additionally, if you’ve had a heart attack or stroke, you may need to wait up to six months before donating.

After donation, several mandatory laboratory tests are performed on the blood before it’s banked. These tests include things such as:

  • blood and Rh typing
  • testing for infections, including:
    • HIV
    • HTLV (human T-cell leukemia/lymphotropic virus)
    • hepatitis B and C
    • syphilis
    • West Nile virus
    • Chagas disease
    • removal of T lymphocyte cells, which can cause a reaction when transfused

Blood banks don’t test for the presence of nicotine, tobacco, or marijuana.

Smoking doesn’t prevent you from giving blood, but it’s still a good idea to try to quit.

Consider these reasons to quit smoking:

  • You’ll have a lower chance of developing heart disease, lung disease, cancer, and other conditions that can result from smoking.
  • Your friends and loved ones won’t be exposed to secondhand smoke.
  • You’ll be able to breathe easier and cough less.
  • Your clothing, car, and home won’t smell like smoke.
  • You’ll have more disposable income when you don’t have to buy cigarettes.

Check out these apps for help quitting.