Posted on Facebook by US nurse Amanda Eller and captioned, “Still wanna smoke?” the video (which has since been shared more than 500,000 times,) expertly illustrates the horrifying effects the habit can have on the lungs.
It starts with two sets of the organ laying side by side. One is healthy and pink, while the other is black, wrinkled and badly damaged thanks to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – a lung condition that includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema.
Then, the lungs are filled with air using a medical apparatus that mimics the process of breathing.
What happens next is astounding.
While the healthy lungs inflate and deflate without issue, the smoker’s lungs can’t hold onto the air in the same way.
“These lungs are COPD lungs, cancerous lungs,” the nurse explains in the background.
“The elasticity has gone, they stretch out but the recoil of them just snaps right back because there’s nothing to help hold them open.”
In short: the diseased lungs can no longer expand and contract properly, which explains why smokers often feel so short of breath.
"They don’t stay inflated as long because those delicate tissues, they become hardened and they don’t work as intended," Dr Alexander Prokhorov, a professor in the Department of Behavioural science and the director of Tobacco Outreach Program at MD Anderson Cancer Centre in Houston explained in an interview with Buzzfeed News.
“[Lungs are] supposed to be pink and spongey and elastic, but it loses all this as over 7,000 chemicals hit this organ hard and that’s how it loses the colour, loses the elasticity,”
And for all the smokers out there – Dr Prokhorov says it’s never too late to cut back.
“There’s a misconception of, ‘alright, I smoked for 10 years or 5 years so the damage is done, I can’t reverse it’ – that’s not true,” he said.
“Quitting is always good, there’s no doubt that you will have some health benefits if you quit.”