Smoking may leave people more vulnerable to suffering from phobias and other types of chronic fear like post-traumatic stress disorder, according to new research.
Scientists have found that tobacco smoke can impair the brain's ability to repress fear-related memories, leaving smokers less able to deal with fear and anxiety after a traumatic event.
It could have serious implications for people in jobs where they are most at risk of developing PTSD, such as in the armed forces. Around 33 percent of soldiers are thought to smoke.
The scientists behind the study believe chemicals in tobacco smoke may interfere with the messages between neurons in the brain - also known as neurotransmitters - that are involved in controlling fear.